How to Start a Book Club

Book clubs are a fantastic way to bring your community together and get to know each other on a deeper level.

Book clubs are easy to start and don't take a lot of effort to run. All you need is some willing participants, the books, and a space and time to meet every so often. 

Step 1: Decide the Book Club's Purpose 

There are a lot of reasons to create a book club. Maybe you just want to socialize more and make new friends. Or maybe you have some reading goals to reach this year. The reason for creating your book club will determine the club's purpose which then might determine how it's run. 

For instance, if you are making a book club for purely social reasons, then you might decide on fun books and a meeting place that facilitates chatting and hanging out. But if the purpose of the club is more academic, then you'll choose heavier books and put more time and effort into creating a group discussion plan. 

It is also helpful to put a name to your book club so that you can easily refer to the club using a name. It doesn't have to be anything too clever. You could simply call it Jane's Book Club if your name is Jane. Or you could have a brainstorming session with the group and then vote on the most popular name idea. 

Step 2: Decide Who's Invited 

The ideal number of members in a book club range between 8 and 16 members. You want enough people to create interesting group discussions, but not so many people that the group gets out of hand. 

If you are unsure about who to invite, then you can simply invite 2 to 3 people and have them each invite their own 2 to 3 people. That way you'll have a diverse group. 

You can also post flyers around your community with the details of your first meeting if you want to gather a completely new group. This can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Then you can hold your meetings in public places where everyone can easily meet together regardless of their schedules. 

Step 3: Plan the Meetings

When scheduling your book club meet-ups you'll need to decide on a where and when. There are several options available to you for where you and your fellow group members could meet. 

Where and when you decide will mostly depend on the availability and preferences of your group members. 

You could meet online:

  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Video Calls
  • Skype 
  • Online forums
  • Group Messenger

You could meet in person:

  • a coffee shop
  • a restaurant where you can eat together and discuss 
  • someone's house 
  • the local library

Step 4: Make a Reading List

One of the hard parts of creating a book club is getting everyone to agree on what books to read. It helps if you decide on how readings lists will be determined as soon as possible. 

Maybe you, as the leader of the book club, will make all reading list decisions. Or maybe everyone will vote on which books to read at the first meeting. You could also take turns in the group for who gets to pick the next book. 

Your book club might also have a specific purpose, like to read all the books by Jane Austen. If that's the case then your book club's reading list is already decided! 

Download a Yearly Reading List.

Step 5: Make a Schedule 

Once you have a reading list it's time to schedule out your reading assignments and group discussions. Generally, scheduling to read a chapter a week isn't too difficult of a reading assignment, but this might depend on the book you're all reading. 

Take into account how quickly you want to go through each book, the number of pages in each chapter, and how often you want your group to meet. 

It might also help to create a calendar for your group so that everyone is on the same page. You can create a group calendar on google calendars, or you can print one out to pass out to everyone. 

Download a Book Club Calendar Template.

Step 6: Figure Out How to Get Books 

Will everyone just buy them or will you all use kindle unlimited or used copies? Depending on your group size there may be enough copies at the local library, but this isn't likely. Most book club's let everyone be in charge of their own books. 

You could also do a traveling book idea where you share one copy of the book. Then you can alternate on who buys the book and who the book ends up with at the end. 

This would be a more inexpensive way to run a book club, but your group discussions would be farther apart. 

Step 7: Format the Book Discussions 

Whether you're meeting online or in person, you'll need to format your group discussions. If you come to group discussions unprepared, or without someone to help lead the discussion, you might end up with lots of awkward silences. 

To avoid long silences in your group discussion, come with a list of interesting questions about the section you all just read. You can also send a question or two from this list to everyone before you meet, and have everyone prepare their own answers beforehand. That way everyone has already thought of some things to say. 

Another part of formatting the discussions that you don't want to forget is to create discussion rules or guidelines. If disagreements arise you want to have clear outlines in place dictating what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in group discussions. These outlines can help keep discussions civil and productive. 

Book Club Resources

Need some extra help getting started? You can find all kinds of resources online to help create your book club. Here are just a few book club resources you can use: 

Book Club Apps:

Book Club Websites:

  • is an online platform that allows you to create and organize your book club.
  • Reddit
  • has subreddits for almost any book, full of great discussion topics you can use in your own group.
  • TapaTalk
  • allows you to create an online community forum.