How To Start An Amazing Book Club That Will Be Meaningful, Fun and Easy To Organize!
It is time to bring one of your dream ideas to life…
Let’s start a book club!
Coffee cup in hand. You march to your desk. Sit down. And… sit there. “Where do I begin?”
“I don’t want to start just any book club. How do I start an AMAZING book club?”
Follow a step-by-step list from an established and successful book club that provides simple, creative and effective suggestions for:
•Supporting a balanced planning commitment for organizing a book club
•Various options for costs to participate in a book club
•Tips for meaningful and fun book club discussions
•The Top Five Resources You Need To Start An Amazing Book Club In One Hour! (Available in my free Resource Library for a quick turbo-boost to get up and running in a snap!)
That’s where I come in…
I am going to throw open all my secret files to give you an “insider’s peek” at my own AMAZING book club and how I keep it meaningful, fun and easy to organize.
A step-by-step list that provides simple, creative and effective suggestions to how to start an AMAZING book club so you can:
Spend more time actually enjoying “being” in a book club rather than organizing it
Elevate each member’s reading experience by supporting meaningful AND fun book discussions
Establish an absolutely “must be there” event in your schedule that connects the life you would love to the life you are living!
When I started my book club, I was looking for an insightful evening of discussion with other readers who love to read as well…
I imagined the scenes I had seen in movies of these fabulous women and men (yes… men love book clubs too!) getting together to dive deep into a great book, share diverse perspectives and add a meaningful yet fun discussion to our collective reading practices.
I always learn something new from discussing a book with another reader. It connects me to an understanding of a broader perspective… And ultimately connects me to understanding myself and others in a more meaningful way that often reveals a common bond I may not have realized existed before.
Are you thinking: Yes! That is what I am looking for!
Well… Start your engines…
What do you do in a book club?
You should be prepared to pass an eligibility test, provide written proof that you read at least 52 books a year and be willing to be tattooed with Jane Austen’s initials… if you aren’t already.
Just kidding!! Whoa… Hop out of that tattoo chair, you go-getter!
There are no secret rituals, no rigid guidelines and no requirements to cross the threshold of a book club meeting.
Basically, you do one thing: Read and discuss books.
Having said that…
If you would like to start an AMAZING book club, it is important to have a flexible structure that:
Supports a balanced planning commitment for both the book club organizer and the members
Provides various options for supporting any financial investment to participate in the book club
Nurtures meaningful and fun discussions of the book
Don’t worry! I have gotcha’ covered. And, I know how precious your time is.
So, I am going to lay out a step-by-step roadmap for starting an AMAZING book club that will be meaningful and fun… And will not add tons of tasks to your already busy schedule.
You could even get started in one hour with a few key resources! Check out the top five book club resources I recommend at the bottom of this post. Most are already right at your fingertips or can be printed from my free Resource Library!
Book club should be a joy to go to… A joy to participate in… And a joy to organize.
Each of my suggestions are focused on providing both you (as the leader) and each of the book club members with an experience that connects the life you would love to the life you are living. Simply, beautifully and meaningfully.
So, let’s get started with YOUR amazing book club!
HOW DO YOU START AN AMAZING BOOK CLUB THAT WILL BE MEANINGFUL, FUN…
AND EASY TO ORGANIZE?
Step One: Establish A Meeting Schedule
Select a schedule that provides an easeful and consistent understanding of when you are meeting.
My personal recommendation:
Monthly meeting that is consistent from month to month
Example: My book club meets the last Tuesday of each month @ 7:00pm
Clear Advance Scheduling:
You want each member to be able to easily add the event into their calendar as a recurring event for the entire year with one entry. This supports fewer unintended planned conflicts as their other commitments are scheduled during the year as well.
End of the Month Scheduling:
Although a regular monthly schedule provides approximately the same amount of time between each meeting regardless of what week you select, there is a psychological benefit to linking your “April Book Club Selection” mentally to having the entire month of April to read it. I know it sounds crazy… But it does feel like you have more time!
Establish Your Holiday Scheduling:
Make schedule adjustments to allow December off. Trust me on this one. The holidays are not the time to add in your book club meeting and reading the book to support it as well. No matter how enthusiastic your book club is… don’t do it!
Why? You don’t want your amazing book club to get “ball and chained” to a mindset of “I can’t fit this into my schedule”. And the holidays are a fertile playground for that mindset to take root!
Example: My book club meets the last Tuesday of each month. Each November, we shift the November meeting (which would get entangled with Thanksgiving holiday travel) to the first Tuesday in December (prior to when most December holiday functions begin). Then, we don’t meet again until the last Tuesday in January.
How does this help? We take the book club meeting out of the “holiday event hamster wheel”! And, bonus… We get to choose an epic-sized novel for the January meeting discussion, since we have extra weeks to complete the book. Boom!
Step Two: Establish A Meeting Venue
There are two basic options here: Your home… Or somewhere else!
My personal recommendation:
Example: My book club meets at our local community clubhouse… And every month I am grateful for this decision!
And, here is why…
Select A Public Venue That Also Offers The Benefits of Home:
A community clubhouse is my ideal choice. A wonderful public (or semi-private) venue that usually has cozy sitting areas and/or larger tables for “roundtable” discussions.
What you gain:
Easeful group set-up (chairs, large tables, etc.)
Usually includes access to a kitchen and bathrooms
Has plenty of parking
May offer free access & use to community members
Diminishes a sense of “ownership” within the book club
Establishes a more equitable responsibility within the book club
Members are already used to bringing their own drink of choice to the community clubhouse (wine, cocktail, iced tea, water… or whatever)
And the best part…
After the meeting, you lock-up, go home and go to bed! Refreshed and inspired from actually participating in the discussion… rather than cleaning, serving and managing your home as the venue.
What you avoid:
Cleaning your house in preparation for the meeting
Cleaning and serving during the meeting
Cleaning your house after the meeting
Hmm… I think it is clear about how I feel on the extracurricular cleaning issue…
Feeling obligated to feed and hydrate the masses
Working out parking (often to the annoyance of your neighbors or to the detriment of your lawn!)
What you lose:
The only “con” I have experienced with this scenario is sometimes there is no free Wi-Fi option.
For most book club applications, this is easily solved, if your cellular wi-fi has a good signal at the venue.
Why would a book club need Wi-Fi? You might want to show a clip of an author interview, book-to-movie trailer, access online book club discussion questions, show images related to a book’s focus, etc. Use your mobile screen or, if available, hotspot your larger tablet from your mobile signal.
Step Three: Invite Members
You want to nurture a diverse interest in book selections and discussion. This is one of the primary benefits of an amazing book club. It introduces you to books you might not have selected on your own or to perspectives that you might not have considered.
However, it can be worthwhile to select a common factor to build upon as a starting point. Just make sure your common factor includes a range of diverse interests and participation.
FYI: I am not recommending exclusivity or eligibility requirements for any book club. I am only suggesting that a common factor creates a great starting point to build upon as you are beginning. Start from there… and extend a welcome to anyone who presents to be a great potential book club member.
My personal recommendation:
Community-Based Book Club
Example: My book club members are primarily neighbors in my community, which is also a diverse mix of cultures, ages, backgrounds and experiences. However, we welcome any interested friends or visitors of our community members to our book club as well.
Start With A List That Already Shares A Common Factor:
Community-Based Book Club:
Meeting Venue: A great meeting venue is often available at the community clubhouse.
Online Information Resource: List the book club meeting schedule, information and book selections on the community online calendar via the community’s website. Diminishes additional calls, emails and texts to the book club leader.
Promotion Options: Book club announcements can be included in community emails, board meetings and community signage. Diminishes additional promotion responsibilities for book club leader.
Increases Value of Community Ownership: Provides an additional amenity for residents in your community.
Genre-Based Book Club:
Focus could include:
Could also be specific to one topic (such as U.S. History, Science, Business, etc.)
Chillers & Thrillers
A specific Series of Books
Or… The list is endless!
Benefits Of A Genre-Based Book Club:
Focused Book Selections: Supports overlapping and cumulative supplementary discussions from one book to the next.
“Dive Deep” Feature: Encourages “drilling down” within your subject as you are going deeper within each topic.
Simpler Book Selection Options: Could place titles of the Top Ten Books (of the genre selected) in a hat and simply draw the selection for each month… Or… If reading a series, the selection is on auto-pilot!
Theme-Based Book Club:
Cuisine-Based Book Club:
Each book is selected to support a monthly pot-luck cuisine for the meeting.
FYI: This one is way too much work for my schedule! But, knock yourselves out, if you are a super-foodie and have the time. And… Send me an invite to nosh, of course!
Holiday-Based Book Club:
Each book is selected to support a prominent holiday within the month.
Wellness-Based Book Club:
Each book is selected to support discussions of health and wellness.
Inspiration-Based Book Club:
Each book is selected to support discussions of inspirational stories, spiritual journeys or faith-based topics.
Local Area-Based Book Club:
Each book is selected to support discussions of local history, stories set in your region, local environmental concerns, prominent local figures or interests.
Or… The list is endless!
Benefits Of A Theme-Based Book Club:
Provides Supplementary Options for Meetings: Cultural cuisine exploration, holiday celebrations, educational support, inspirational discussion, awareness of local issues, etc.
Encourages Connections Outside of Your Community: Expands your circle beyond your neighborhood, community or existing group of friends.
Elevates Your Understanding Of A Specific Topic: Introduces you to new theories, discoveries and approaches within a topic of interest to you.
Step Four: Find Available Options To Provide The Books
Whether everyone purchases the book, or you have a lending option, it is super-exciting to reveal the next month’s book at the meeting and pass out the copies!
This is an important feature of an AMAZING book club! A “big reveal” each month of the book you will be reading… And giving out the books at the end of each meeting!
YOU get a book… And YOU get a book… And YOU get a book!
My personal recommendation on this one is:
Every option I list below! They are all wonderful options and support all parties involved in various ways.
Place A Group Order For The Books Via Amazon Prime:
Most titles usually in stock and ready to ship quickly in hardcover, paperback, audiobook and digital editions.
FYI: If your book club prefers digital editions, I suggest orders should be placed directly by each member, so they are delivered directly to their device. You could easily set up an “order station” at your meeting so, everyone could receive their book instantly after the reveal as well. Look for a future post here in T.I.M.E. on a step-by-step guide to support you with this feature!
Can often have all books within 2 days of placing your order!
Make sure you have Amazon Prime for free and fast delivery options!
Check out my Book Club Favorites for ideas. And… You can place your entire order in one click (right from my page) when you find a book you like!
NOTE: Don’t worry… I am not suggesting you pay for and provide free books to everyone each month! Reimbursement from each member is super-simple to set up as well. If you need help, I will be writing further on how to set up this approach in complete detail in future posts. Believe me… This is a big part of keeping your book club amazing: A big “reveal” for the new book each month!
But… If this freaks you out too much, it’s OK! Take a deep breath. You can still use this option and simply announce the book at the meeting, reveal your own personal copy and provide the information on where they can purchase the book directly for themselves. You should know that this can shorten the amount of available reading time as each member purchases their copy in the next week or later. So, keep that in mind when you are selecting books with a high page count!
Set Up A Book Club Registry At Your Local Independent Bookstore:
Contact your favorite local independent bookstore and ask if they would be interested in supporting your book club by setting up a “registry” account and ensuring they have enough copies in stock for your members to purchase locally.
Be sure to ask for a book club discount they might be willing to apply to encourage your members to do their shopping locally.
Provide your book club selections to your local bookstore at least 2 months in advance to make this option easeful for everyone.
Great option to support a continuing presence of a local bookstore in your community!
FYI: If you need additional venue options, a local bookstore will often offer book clubs access to a cozy meeting area as well!
Local Library - Book Club Bag Program:
Many libraries have “Book Club Bags” (or something similar) to support local book club groups.
A Book Club Bag might include:
Approximately 10 copies of the book
Suggested book club discussion questions
Background information on the author and/or topic covered in the book
Tips for Using A Book Club Bag Option:
You will probably need to select your favorites at least 3 months in advance to “get in the cue” for each Book Club Bag. Longer for more current bestseller titles.
Once borrowed, you usually have the Book Club Bag for about two months. Check your local library for availability and lending policy to confirm.
If your library does not have the title you are looking for…
Submit a suggestion to the desk librarian to create a new Book Club Bag for the titles your book club is interested in.
FYI: I do this every month with my local library. Plan at least 3 – 6 months in advance on this option. But you are first in line to borrow 10 fresh new copies of the book when the bag is ready!
If your library does not have a Book Club Bag program…
Get to know your librarian and offer to help support setting it up! Your book club could even volunteer to donate 10 copies of a previous month’s selection to create a Book Club Bag for the library to lend to other book club groups in the community.
FYI: Confirm with the library whether they only accept hardcover or paperback editions for a Book Club Bag and clarify any other requirements they have to ensure your donation is eligible.
Local Library - Individual Lending:
This option will not give you the benefit of the “big reveal” bonus. However, it is a great option if you need additional lending options for starting your book club with an eye to a budget financial investment.
Before selecting the book, check your library’s online website catalog to see how many copies they have available. If the book is super-popular, this will not be your ideal option, as the book will have tons of holds on every copy. And ideally, you will need enough available copies for everyone in the book club to check out on their own. Just keep an eye out for books that are maybe not the current bestsellers, but still wonderful books. You will have plenty of options to choose from!
FYI: The library will often have a display or listing of recommended titles that were bestsellers in the previous year and much more readily available now to check out without a wait.
And… If you don’t have a library card…
Get in your car this minute and go get one! Everyone should have a library card! Period… End of story… I could rant on this all day!
Personal Library Lending:
Again, this option will not give you the benefit of the “big reveal” bonus… But it can be fun to see the books “flying around” between your members as each one reads and passes to the next.
If you have access to a community clubhouse…
Look into establishing a super-simple lending library in the community clubhouse. Residents love to down-size and donate previously read books to a community-based lending library.
Again… Another great amenity to boost your community’s value!
Step Five: Establish A Meeting Format
This can be at the root of any book club’s lack of success or even collapse… A lack of flexible structure.
I find that a balanced and flexible level of structure is a “must” to support a meaningful yet fun book discussion.
“Can’t I just get together with my friends over wine and snacks and talk about a book?”
Absolutely! You certainly can. I think any book-related get-together is a super idea! But I have found more often than not, that the evening was very little “book talk” and lots of “social time”. All good…
If you are looking for meaningful discussion to deepen your reading practice, you will benefit from establishing a meeting format that puts the book discussion “front and center” and “bookends” the discussion time with fun social time too!
My personal recommendation:
Here is the meeting format my book club follows… Voila!
Book Club Meeting Format
6:45pm: Meeting Venue Opens - Social Time
7:00pm: Assemble to Meeting Table
7:05pm: Meeting Begins
Review the meeting timeline and the agreed guidelines for supporting a respectful discussion
Give a brief statement on the book, while setting an optimistic and open tone for discussion
If leader is not facilitating, introduce facilitator for the current book discussion and turn over to facilitator.
FYI: If the book was originally recommended by a specific book club member, I invite that member (in advance) to facilitate the discussion.
7:15pm: Book Discussion Begins (Current Book Only)
Guide any extraneous remarks made back to discussing the current book. This is very important!
Gently establish that this set time is for discussing the current book only… And that we will have time for other topics, recommendations for other books, etc after the discussion.
And… If you are looking for a super-fun suggestion to help keep your discussion focused, check out my Top Five Resources You Need To Start An Amazing Book Club In One Hour! at the bottom of this post.
Maintain a courteous, respectful and equitable discussion amongst all attending members
Facilitate via questions or open-ended comments/suggestions rather than conclusive statements or “teaching” the subject
Be prepared with tabbed quotes within the book to spark both meaningful and fun discussion points
Be aware of equitably encouraging and supporting each member’s participation in the discussion
7:40pm: Close the Discussion and Rate the Book
Ask for an overall rating of the book (1 - 5 Stars) from the book club
FYI: You can report the book club’s rating via the source used to provide the books (online purchase, local bookstore, library, etc.).
Ask any final questions such as:
Was your perspective or opinion of the book effected by our discussion? If so, how?
FYI: You will be surprised how often you will find that a book “raises in value” with each member, after participating in the book club discussion and hearing each other’s reading experience from a different perspective other than their own.
Would you be interested in a sequel of this story?
Would you be interested in additional titles by this author (or genre, topic, etc.)?
7:45pm: Open the Discussion to New Book Suggestions and Recommendations
Give each interested member an opportunity to present a book they recommend and why
Keep a list of titles/authors suggested and which book club member presented the recommendation
FYI: If a recommended book is later selected for the book club discussion, consider asking the book club member who recommended it to facilitate the discussion. It strengthens the book club to share the facilitation responsibilities.
After all recommendations have been presented, review the list with the members to determine which, if any, books should be integrated into our book club selections.
7:55pm: Reveal the New Book & Pass Out the Copies!
Include any final announcements
8:00pm: Close the Meeting… and enjoy some Social Time!
Congratulations! You are on your way to starting an AMAZING book club…
Do you have any questions?
“I already have a night planned with my book friends for tonight?! How can I start an AMAZING book club IN ONE HOUR?”
No problem!… How can I help you?
“I would really like to get started with my friends tonight… It would be great if I could find…”
Some CREATIVE resources to get up and running now
“I don’t want to always be responsible for bringing all the notes and quotes to the meeting for the discussion. It would be wonderful if I could also find…”
A BEAUTIFUL resource to give each member so everyone can easily bring ideas to the meeting
“I don’t want to be “the meeting police” but, I do want this to be more than our regular “wine night”! It would be ideal if I could find…”
A FUN resource for keeping the discussion “on point”
“I don’t want book club to be another long list of time-consuming tasks I am adding to my already full schedule. It would be really important to find…”
A few SIMPLE resources I could use that I might already have or could easily print out
No worries! You are my everybody… and I take care of my everybody!
It is a free download for you and available in my free Resource Library.
Each resource is a personal favorite of mine to support an easeful and fun book club experience! And, the best thing is: You probably already have most of these resources ready to go at your fingertips. Or you can easily print them from the templates provided. Everything you need in one place to get going now. Super-simple!
I suggest you follow the full step-by-step list to support an AMAZING book club that will thrive all year long… But, my top five resources will give you a “turbo-boost” to get you started in a snap and are all still in alignment with pulling together the full step-by-step list to support an AMAZING book club!
GET MY FREE “TOP FIVE RESOURCES YOU NEED TO START AN AMAZING BOOK CLUB IN ONE HOUR!”
Get the password to my Resource Library to access these free resources by filling out the form below:
The Step-By-Step List outlined in this post to starting an amazing book club + My Top Five Resources to get started quickly have been created especially for you to support you in connecting the life you would love to the life you are living.
Providing simple and beautiful options to support meaningful book club discussions
Including fun options to maintain a focused purpose within the meeting
Presenting easeful planning options so you can spend more time enjoying participating in the book club too!
Why start a book club?
Because books can be the entry point to connecting the life you would love to the life you are living. With each reading experience, you have the opportunity to step into the shoes of a character and see what it might be like to choose a different option.
You wouldn’t buy a car without taking a test drive, would you? Then, value your own beautiful life as much…
Congratulations on starting an amazing book club! What other ideas are “simmering on the stove” in the back of your mind?
Write down three ideas in your journal, calendar or digital notepad that you would love to add into your life.
Don’t worry… You don’t have to start them all at the same time! But there is something powerful that happens in the alchemy of transforming those ideas from thoughts into written words. See what starts to happen!
You will be surprised how simple the solution is when you find it!
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE “HOW TO START AN AMAZING BOOK CLUB” TO YOUR FAVORITE BOOK CLUB PINTEREST BOARD!
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