Book Club Basics "How to Start your own book club" with pictures of books behind it.
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Book Club Basics– How to start your own

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Getting lost in a story is one of my most favorite things to do.

I don’t care if I am physically reading from a page or if I’m listening to the audio.

My next favorite part of consuming a book is being able to discuss it. I want to talk about the connections that I made with characters, gripe about the annoyance I felt with my least favorite part of the story, or “ooooh” and “ahhh” at the plot twists and turns the author did so well.

This is why a book club is one of the times that I have carved out for myself.

I struggle to choose books to read, especially because I don’t know who else will have read the book (so I can have someone to talk to!) There were book clubs listed at the local library and even a few online.

However, none of them really had what I was looking for, so I started my own. This post is going to provide a framework for how you can begin to think through how to start and run your own book club.

Things to consider when starting your own book club:

You can work your way through these questions alone and then invite others to join you, or you and a group can work through these questions together. It’s all up to you!

Determine how often you will meet— Bi-monthly? Monthly? Quarterly? Our group has chosen to meet monthly, on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

Determine how you will choose your books— Do you want to make a list for the year? Vote monthly? Choose a list and make your way through it? We’ve chosen to let each member rotate turns choosing the book through alphabetical order. This has lent itself to a wonderful lists of books that I would have likely never chosen for myself.

Determine your meeting place— Have a favorite coffee shop? Using a library meeting room? Meet at someone’s house? Virtual meet up? You don’t have to do a book club that meets face to face. You can do a Zoom meet up, skype/facetime someone who couldn’t make it physically to meet the group, or do a written meet up in a Facebook group. We let whoever chooses the book, also choose the location.

Determine how you’ll organize your communication— Email list? Facebook group? Group chat? You’ll also want to think about who will be responsible for communicating with the group. We do a Facebook group so that there is plenty of transparency amongst everyone and it allows everyone to have a vote when posing a question to the group.

Determine how you will discuss what you’ve read— Are you discussing one book at a time, or are you going to discuss several books at each meeting? Do you want to have a set of questions you’d like to discuss about each book, or would you rather have each person bring a question or discussion point about the book for that meeting? Are you going to rate the books and discuss each rating? There’s no right or wrong answer to how you’ll do this, just a matter of what works for your group. I like to look up the discussion guides provided by the author as a “back up plan” in case nothing jumps out to discuss. However, most of the time, we’re all excited, broken hearted, enraged, or even sometimes bored with what we’ve just read.

After the hard work is done…

Now it’s time to have fun! Enrich your meeting experience by having fun themes to go along with the book you’ve read.

Examples include:

  • Decorating the space to fit the theme of the book
  • Choosing a restaurant or doing a potluck of related foods
  • Choose books to fit the holidays or season
  • If the book has been made into a movie, go as a group to the theatre or rent a copy and meet at someone’s house—then discuss how the movie and book are different!

There really are so many ways to make the experience even more fun after all the joy of reading the book has ended. Hopefully this helps you figure out how to establish your book club and for it to be as enjoyable as possible. Below I’m going to include the list of books that our book club as read so far to give you a starting place to start your own club’s book list.

Share with me how your book club does things or some of the books that you’ve chosen! Below I’ll share some of what ours has done!

Set up for "The Night Circus" discussion, table is set up with flowers, wine glasses and bags of popcorn
Set up for “The Night Circus” discussion
"The Museum of Extraordinary Things" set up. Picture with lots of mermaids, and sea related foods
“The Museum of Extraordinary Things” set up
"Tipsy Chocolate Cake" from "The Rules of Magic"
“Tipsy Chocolate Cake” from “The Rules of Magic”

Books

Wild (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 Digital Edition): From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
The Girl on the Train: A Novelby Paula Hawkins
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Big Little Lies by Liane Morian
The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Bossypants by Tina Fey
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett
A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
Rogue Lawyer: A Novel by John Grisham
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Up Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore
Skipping Christmas: A Novel by John Grisham
The Rules of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series) by Alice Hoffman
The Red Tent – 20th Anniversary Edition: A Novel by Anita Diamant
Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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4 thoughts on “Book Club Basics– How to start your own”

  1. Awesome suggestions! I hadn’t thought about the online meeting options. My thinking was strictly “old school” wine glasses around the coffee table. This adds a whole new level and great suggestions for everyone’s busy lifestyles! And I LOVE them themed foods/snacks!

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