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How can I Start a Book Club?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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If you would like to start a book club, the first step is planning. Decide how many members you would like, where and how often you would like to meet, and your criteria for choosing books, for example. Some of these factors, along with other ground rules, can be developed or refined by consensus once you have a small "core group" established.

To begin building your club base, think about any friends or acquaintances you have that may like to start a book club with you. Anywhere you are in contact with others and already have some friends, such as work, school, or church, is a perfect place to ask around and begin gaining members. You may be able to find enough people to start a book club right away, but if only another person or two show interest, you can enlist their aid in formulating rules and in advertising and recruiting new participants.

Logistics are important when you start a book club. Choose a time and place convenient to everyone and how often you will meet. Once a month is usually a good frequency. Some book clubs meet at the same place every week, and others rotate so that members share hosting duties. Decide what kind of refreshments, if any, will be provided, and what guidelines your discussions will follow.

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Before you start a book club, decide how books will be chosen. Perhaps everyone can make suggestions and vote, or suggestions can be chosen randomly, or core members can take turns. Some people start a book club with a special theme, such as classics or women writers, and others are quite inclusive, allowing non-fiction books, poetry, novels, self-help, and other genres.

You may wish to have a designated person lead the discussion each time, perhaps switching off among members, or you may ask everyone to bring a topic or question. Many books, especially those on recommended book group reading lists, such as Oprah's Book Club, include discussion questions in an appendix. Discussion questions for many others may be found online by searching under the book's title.

After you start a book club, you can advertise not only by word of mouth, but also through flyers. In addition to places you frequent, consider leaving flyers at places readers are likely to visit, such as the library or a local cafe. Advertising is always important to keep your book club going, as members may come and go.

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dfoster85
Post 2

@Kat919 - That's a really important point. I belonged to a mother-daughter book group that was probably about in between the two extremes you mention. There was one mother who never, ever read the book and sometimes that made things awkward as the rest of us had read it and wanted to talk about it.

I was actually the daughter in the group, which we somehow kept going to ten years! It started when I was in second grade and continued through high school with very little attrition. The really nice thing about it was that it gave me and my mother something to talk about! And it wasn't just reading the books -- we hosted the meeting once a year, so we planned that together, plus of course it meant that we knew some of the same people. I'm really hoping to get something like that going with my own daughter once she's a little older.

Kat919
Post 1

If you're thinking about how to start a book club, one important consideration is how in-depth people want to get.

At some book clubs, maybe half the people have actually finished the book and it gets discussed for maybe ten minutes. I belong to one that's a little more intellectual; almost all of us will have finished the book and we might discuss it for an hour or even two, on and off, depending on how challenging the book was. (Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder" got more discussion time than the Sophie Kinsella we did last summer just for fun.)

Neither kind is "right" or "wrong," but if the members are not in agreement about what kind of book club they want to be, some of them are going to be unhappy.

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