How to Start a Book Club

Wondering how to start a book club to make friends and read more books? Here are some simple steps of how to get started locally or online.

Book clubs are a fantastic way to bring your community together and get to know each other on a deeper level. They’re also easy to get started and run. Book clubs make a great community group because they can easily be managed as an online book club if you can’t always get together in person. All you need are some willing participants, the books, and a space and time to meet every so often.

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What Is A Book Club?

A book club is a community group that reads the same book at the same time, and comes together in regular discussions to talk about what they’ve read. A book club can also be whatever you want it to be. Maybe you love a specific genre like science fiction. Then you can gather a group of fellow science fiction lovers and read great sci fi books together. 

How Do Book Clubs Work?

Book clubs are some of the easiest community groups to create. They are easy because you don’t have to meet as a group very often and group members don’t have a lot of requirements other than keeping up with the reading assignments and joining in on semi-regular book discussions. Anyone can make this kind of club if they just know these basic steps.

Book Club Ideas

The first thing you need to do is decide the book club idea you want to go with. This is easier if you already know the purpose you want your group to have. Will it be mostly to socialize? Or will it be mostly to nerd out about a particular genre you all love? Once you know the theme of your group you can pick a book club idea that suits that theme. 

  • Read books in a specific genre
  • Read any book choices from a group that just loves to read 
  • Read chapter books
  • Follow along with Reese Witherspoon’s book club 
  • Have a silent book club where the group reads in silence together
  • Join a book subscription service with a few friends 

Establishing Book Club Rules

Once you have a clear purpose in mind you can start running your book club, but first, you’ll want to establish book club rules. These ground rules will help the club run smoothly and ensure everyone has a great time. This will also help you deal with any unfortunate situations where a group member might need to be booted from the group for bad behavior. 

  • Everyone takes turns during discussion time 
  • Don’t interrupt anyone during discussion time 
  • There are no wrong answers to a discussion question
  • Bring discussion questions of your own 
  • Be on time to the video chat 

How To Run A Book Club

Now that you have the foundational aspects of your group decided (the theme and rules) it’s time to figure out the logistics of actually running the club. 

Step 1: Plan Book Club Meetings

It helps if you decide on a specific time and place for your regular discussion sessions. There are so many places where you could meet for a discussion: 

  • You could meet online
  • You could create an online forum
  • You could create a group message for video chats and virtual meetups
  • You could meet in person at a coffee shop
  • You could meet in person at a restaurant where you can eat together and discuss 
  • You could meet in person at someone's house 
  • Or you could meet up at the local library

Step 2: Make a Reading List

One of the hard parts of creating a book club is getting everyone to agree on what to read. It helps if you decide on how reading 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. 

Download a Book Club Reading List.

Step 3: Make an Agenda 

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 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 (literally). 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.

Step 4: How Will Everyone Get Their Books?

Will everyone buy their own books, will everyone take turns reading the same copy, will everyone use a subscription like Book of the Month? These are the questions you want to answer before the group actually begins. Most commonly, everyone in the club will be responsible for getting their own copies.

Step 5: 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 meetups come with a list of interesting discussion questions about the section you all just read. You can also send a list of discussion questions to everyone before the meeting so everyone can come prepared. 

Online Virtual Book Clubs

Not everyone can always meet together in person. Luckily, meeting as an online virtual book club is incredibly easy. Just like a traditional book group, all you need to do is figure out when and how you’ll meet virtually. It’s a good idea to create a group chat for the group, so you have a place to communicate and hold virtual book club meetups. Most group chat apps will have a calling feature and many of them include video calls along with audio calls. Creating a group on social media is also a good way to stay connected with your virtual community group. 

Children’s Book Clubs

A children’s book club is going to work much the same way an adult book club works. The only difference is the kind of books you’ll use. For children you might decide to use kids books for different age groups, or fun books like activity books or board books. Meetups might also end up looking more like playdates, but this is still a great way to teach your children to love reading all while making lifelong friends.

Book Club Apps:

Book Club Websites:

  • BookClubz.com
  • 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.