How to Start a Book Club

Starting a book club? Just follow our 10 basic steps to good books, good talks, and good eats.

1. What kind of book club?
First, decide on a club orientation: somewhere between highly social...and seriously academic. If you make this decision at the outset, you'll know who to invite and what books to read.

2. What kind of books?

Think about the books you enjoy—in terms of genre and level of difficulty. First, consider a mix of genres.
  • Fiction—general, current or classic, historical, mystery, sci-fi, western, romance.

  • Nonfiction—memoir, biography, history, current events, science, travel, cooking.

  • Others—poetry and drama.
Next, vary your reading by moving between more challenging works...and those on the lighter side. (See How to Select Your Books.)

3. What about members?

  • Number—8 to 16 members are best: enough for a discussion if several are absent, but not too many to make discussions unwieldy.

  • Word to the wise—look for people with similar reading styles. If you think Dostoevsky is light beach read, don't ask someone who thinks Project Rosie is a long, tough slog. Even if that person is a close friend, believe us: It—won't—work.

  • Invite—start with 3 friends—all devoted readers; ask each of them to invite 1, 2, or 3 others, also devoted readers. It's not important for everyone to know one another; in fact, it's fun if you don't. After you meet a couple of times, you can grow the club at your own pace. (Or not.)

  • Online—maybe you're new to the area and don't know people. Several of our Featured Book Clubs have started highly successful groups through (Type "" into the LitLovers search bar to get a list of the clubs.)

4. Meeting—how often and when?

The most important thing is to pick a schedule...and stick with it.
  • How Often—once a month works best for most clubs—although some read longer books and stretch their meetings out to every 6 weeks. A lot of clubs shut down for the summer.

  • When—Most clubs meet during the week: mid-morning, lunchtime, dinner, or early evening. For others weekends seem to work. However you approach it, every club ends up working around jobs, childcare, travel, or difficulty driving at night.

5. Where should we meet?

Homes, clubhouses, public libraries, churches, Y's, cafes and restaurants—all make good meeting places.

6. What about food?

You have to ask? Decide if you want to eat at home or out in restaurants? If at home, do you want full meals, or something lighter—wine & cheese, or dessert & coffee?
  • Home meetings—in some clubs the hosts do all the cooking—that way members don't have to prepare a dish every time a meeting rolls around. Other clubs like to share the cooking—everyone brings a dish.

  • Book Club Recipes—LitLovers has nearly 300 recipes from around the world. A lot of clubs find it fun to eat food to match the book: if you're reading one on India, take a look at our Indian menus...or one from Italy...or the U.S. South.

  • Forget the Joneses—don't make serving food a competition. Who needs the pressure? So establish a no-compete rule: chips & dip or artichoke-wasabi souffle, it's all good.

7. What should we call ourselves?

Give your club an identity — Brookville Book Babes, Reading's Red Hat Readers, New London Literary Lions. Or simply the Lakewood Book Club — that works. (Take a look at the VERY COOL NAMES of some of our Featured Cubs.)

8. How do we keep in touch?

Send out monthly meeting reminders via email, Twitter, or Facebook. A number of clubs set up their own blog sites or use Facebook or Pinterest to connect members and highlight their book selections.

9. Keeping memories

Keep a club journal—a scrapbook or 3-ring binder—to keep track of the book selections, plot summaries, discussion highlights, and members' opinions. It's especially helpful to bring new members up to speed. Include photos of special events.

10. Giving to the community

Collect dues for a scholarship or an annual literacy award at a local school. Purchase books for your local library, or become involved in a tutoring program.

Take a look at a couple of our FEATURED BOOK CLUBS for some really terrific ideas for community involvement:
    ♥ Book Lovers Group of Gainesville
    ♥ The Breakfast Book Club

(Book club tips by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks!)

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