How big should your book group be?
Do you want a big meeting where lots of different people offer their brief opinions or do you prefer to have a small group, where everyone knows each other and there is lots of time to talk? Decide this first, because that will make a difference in where your group will meet.
Where will your group meet?
Depending on the size of your group, you have lots of options. You could meet at each other's homes, where you can sit on comfy couches or lay around on the floor. Or your school or public librarian may be interested in helping you get started by letting you hold your meetings in the library. Local bookstores may also let you use their space for meeting. Book groups at restaurants, whether fancy or fast-food, can be fun too. Ask your potential members what would make it easiest for them to attend. Remember, almost any place you can sit and talk with friends has potential to become a meeting spot.
How often will your group meet?
Many book groups meet once a month on a set date, like the third Tuesday of each month. Others may chose to meet once a week or schedule their dates from meeting to meeting. You can decide what works best for your group. You can always add or cut meetings according to your members' schedules.
What will we read?
There are so many choices! How will you even start? One way to decide is to spend a portion of a meeting "booktalking" books to each other and then vote on what you want to read. Booktalking is like making a movie preview out of a book and sharing only bits and pieces that may get your members interested in reading this title. Sometimes book groups will pick books they have already read so that they have a chance to discuss them together. You can choose meeting by meeting, or select the books you will read for months in advance. It's your choice. For some ideas see the Talk It Up! Discussion Guides or search for what our book groups are reading.
How do we start?
Set a date for an "organizational" meeting. Send out invitations or flyers to your potential members. If you would like to get some new members that you might not know, ask your school or public librarian if they will let you post your flyer in the library. At the meeting, introduce people to your idea of a book group. Make some decisions on how big your group will be, where you will meet and the books you want to discuss. Now you are all set to talk.
What if nobody talks?
Ask your book group members to say what they liked about the book first. Give everyone a chance to talk about the positive aspects of a book before anyone cuts in with a negative comment. While it is perfectly fine to talk about what you don't like about a book, it is sometimes hard to talk about the good aspects of a book when someone else has already trashed it! You might want to do some research on the author's life and other books that you can share with your members. Rotate responsibility for leading the discussion and researching the author. Now you are ready to go!
Some helpful book group websites
- Book-Clubs-Resource.com: A comprehensive guide to discount book clubs and reading groups.
- Book Group Buzz: Book group tips, reading lists and literary news from Booklist Online.
- Bookreporter.com: Information on contemporary fiction and nonfiction.
- LitLovers: Reading guides, resources and recipes for your book group.
- Penguin Classics: Book group discussion guides for the classics.
- Reader's Circle: A book club networking site with listings for local groups, author events and phone chats.
- Reading Group Center: Reading group guides and tips.
- Reading Group Choices: Book group titles and discussion guides.
- ReadingGroupGuides: Guides and resources for your book group.
- Simon & Schuster: Reading group resources.