How To Start a Book Club

The lady who started my book club sent an email to several women in her social network and invited us all to meet at Starbucks on a designated day and time if we were interested in joining a book club. We might have had some discussion via email first - it's been a few years. At Starbucks we agreed upon a mutually acceptable time and sketched out our first few rotations. She had brought some lists of possible selections. There was one book that several of us expressed an interest in. Since I became the first hostess, I used that book as our first selection. Since then we've all chosen our selection independently.


There are readers all around you - where you least expect it. Strike up a conversation and ask someone if they've ever considered joining a book club. When I started a new job, a lady noticed my book that I carried with me and we started talking about reading. I invited her to join. She politely declined but suggested another lady in the office who also like to read and that lady did end up joining. Think about:

    • Co-workers

    • Other parents you see when picking up your child at school

    • People you talk to in the bleachers at your kids' sporting events

    • Church members

    • People in your email contacts

    • Your Social Network


Important things to discuss at your first meeting are:

    • Meeting location, time, day, frequency and length (ours is open ended)

    • Membership or attendance requirements (less requirements is better)

    • Are there any limitations on what you will or won't read

    • Who is responsible for choosing a book

    • Who is responsible for hosting

    • What are the hosts responsibilities (food, reminders, maps, etc.)

    • Communication - In the beginning, we sent out email reminders the week before. Sometimes the hostess forgot and one of us would email her a reminder to remind the rest of us. Typically we each responded to the email stating whether or not we would attend. We also realized at one point that we needed to exchange cell numbers so in case something comes up last minute you can call someone to decline. Or if you get lost or can't get through the gate.
      Years later we evolved. We tried a G
      oogle Calendar one year but not everyone used Google so it had its hiccups. For a few years now we've had a private Facebook group. I administer the page and set up each monthly event to which members can RSVP. I also post "announcements" with the amazon link to each month's selection. Often members will post messages offering a book for loan or with information about a related event like a book sale or an art exhibit that matches up to a book we've read.


There are several ways to select titles:

    • Decide as a group at the end of each meeting

    • Take turns

    • Come up with a list for the year

    • Use this website as a resource!

    • Follow the selections of some other community or national book group (library, Oprah, etc.)


I think a bit of encouragement is always nice. If it is my month, I try to send out a mid-month message with a teaser related to the book. One book I selected I got a head start on and realized there were a lot of geographic references so I made a bookmark with a map of the area and passed them out at the prior month's meeting.

Secretary duties - I think it is helpful if someone keeps a list of what has been read. We didn't formally designate this duty but I stepped up to it. I have found it a nice welcome to new members if you can hand them a list of what has been read. That way they can get an idea of what selections are popular and also not pick something the group has already read. I didn't do this from the beginning and there is one book missing from our 2010 list. Nobody can recall it! I can't even figure out who hosted it.

We initially chose the 2nd Sunday of the month to meet. But in 2012 that consistently wound up as Mother's Day, Easter, or some other holiday so when I looked ahead in December 2011 I saw the number of conflicts and moved it to the 3rd Sunday for the entire year. It's nice to have this ironed out ahead of time instead of bumping through it from month to month.