Start Your Book Club in 6 Easy Steps
Would you like to read more? Share lively discussions? Meet new people and deepen existing friendships? Welcome to Bookclubz. We’ll help you get started, stay organized, and seamlessly integrate reading and friends (more, please!) — into your life. Start with our step-by-step guide, here.
Step 1: Ready, Set, Invite!
Head to Bookclubz.com to Create your club. We’ll supply a private invitation link to share with your group by email or text. Next? Start small, with a few people who love to read. Send them the link with a message describing your plans. Finally: Use your club’s (private) Bookclubz home page to schedule your first meeting. As host, you can suggest the book and date—or let members vote using our online polling feature. Bookclubz also lets you send reminders and track responses. Easy, right?
Now you’re ready to get down to business:
Step 2: Ground Rules.
When your club gathers for the first time, you’ll want consider these questions:
How often will we meet? Most clubs meet every month or two. Some clubs wing it, scheduling from one meeting to the next. Others confirm meet-dates months in advance, say, on the last Tuesday of every month. After a few meetings, you’ll know what jives with your crowd.
Where should we gather? Book clubs usually meet in members’ homes, rotating the hosting duties. But don’t feel hemmed-in by this format. Some clubs meet over brunch in a different café every month. Consider a wine bar. Or book a private room at your local library. Far-flung club members can even gather virtually, using online meeting platforms like skype, zoom.us, or gotomeeting.com.
Does size matter? Most clubs have ten active members, but we’ve seen foursomes and groups of fifty thrive. You’ll rarely see every member at every meeting, so adding a few extras is a good idea. Some clubs favor an open-door policy, allowing members to invite interested friends when the spirit moves them. Others vet prospects carefully. If your club prefers a more-the-merrier approach, you can even post your club’s unique Bookclubz link on public forums. Just be sure to talk about your growth-strategy at your first meeting, so everyone’s on the same page.
How Will We Choose Books? Your group might choose to focus on literary fiction, nonfiction, mystery, historical fiction, women writers, or global authors. Or maybe you’ll mix it up. We like clubs that pick a theme while leaving a little room for variety, but the choice is yours. Try our polling feature—located on your club’s page—to let members vote on books.
Are We a Social group? Literary Club? Or Both? Decide how you’ll divide your time between books and socializing. You might focus on the book for the first hour—then kick back and visit. If a member hasn’t finished that month’s title, consider how you’ll handle plot-spoilers during the discussion. You’ll avoid frustration down the road when members clarify their goals and expectations at the outset.
Step 3: Let the discussion flow.
A little prep-work helps kick off a lively discussion. Nominate a member to start the meeting with an open-ended question, a report on your book’s reviews, or a few newsy tidbits from an author interview. Then let the conversation flow. Want to go deeper? Check Bookclubz for publishers’ reading guides—or try our discussion questions, below, perfect for novels.
- Which character did you identify with most?
- Was the book was well written? What struck you about the author’s style?
- How did the storyline surprise you?
- How did the novel speak to you, personally? Did you laugh or cry?
- Did the book spark your curiosity about the setting? Author? Historical era?
- If they made the book into a movie, what actors would you cast as the main character(s)?
We relate to books on a deeply personal level, so meetings can open surprisingly intimate discussions. Don’t be surprised when opinions differ and remember, always, to be respectful. We bring our own life experience into a novel. Keep this in mind as you add new members. You want to create a group where open, enlightening talk can flourish.
Step 4. Keep Your Momentum Rolling.
People are busy. We get it. So let Bookclubz help! Even the bubbliest group can go flat when members waffle on book-choices and dither over meeting dates. Instead of herding cats, we mean members; let Bookclubz manage the small-but-crucial details. Use our polling tool to pinpoint meeting-dates and choose books, then set a deadline for voting. You’ll thank us when the responses arrive on time, like clockwork. Remember, starting a book club is a labor of love. Once you’ve launched yours, enlist members to share the organizing and hosting duties.
Step 5. Dial Up the Fun!
Sure, book clubs foster thought-provoking literary discussions. But, they’re fun, too. If you’re hosting dinner or a potluck, choose a festive menu theme based on the book. Try a club outing to a local bookstore’s author talk—or catch the movie when a favorite book hits the big screen. For ideas, check out Literary Hostess, where our dear friends Tricia and Kimberly offer hosting tips along with discussion questions for lots of our favorite books.
Step 6. Find Your Groove
As your club bonds over your shared loved of food, wine, and books, its own quirks and charms will emerge. Try our favorite meeting tips, here, then share yours in our comment section, below.
- At the end of every meeting, ask each member rate the book on a scale of 1-10. Members share their rating and why. This lets everyone talk about how the club’s discussion influenced their rating.
- Pick a month for a wild-card book: When the Pulitzer-prize is announced in August, Anna’s club likes to read the winner.
- Help your host: If they’re preparing the meal, let one member to bring dessert while others bring beverages.
- We know long-standing book clubs who take an annual beach trip together; but start with a museum visit, author talk, or book-inspired movie night.
Finally, as your club comes together, let Bookclubz make the organizing a breeze. Serving book clubs is behind everything we do! Send us your questions and comments and tell us what works for you. We love helping clubs, like yours, get started.