How to Start a Book Club: Create a Thriving Literary Community

Starting a book club can be an amazing experience. Book clubs allow us to bring the stories we’re reading into the real world. We get to dig deeper, stretch our minds, and experience the different perceptions and viewpoints that readers bring to stories.

Book clubs can also lead to lifelong friendships. Because let’s be honest—booklovers are the best.

This guide will walk you through the process of starting a book club of your own. Learn how to determine the specifics of your book club, find members, and establish a long-lasting group.

How to Start a Book Club Online or In Person

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make for your book club is whether to meet online, in person, or both. The format of your book club meetings will shape the overall experience for members. Each option has pros and cons:

Online Book ClubIn-Person Book Club
Flexible and Inclusive: Online meetings allow members to participate from home, which can be especially beneficial for individuals with busy schedules.Face-to-Face Interaction: In-person discussions can be deeper and more enriching. As wonderful as technology is, video conferencing isn’t the same as sharing of ideas and emotions in person.
Global Reach: Online formats make your book club accessible to members around the world.Local Community Building: Meeting at a local library or coffee shop can help your group connect to and support the local community.
Adaptable: With an online format, your group may adapt more easily to circumstances such as inclement weather.Camaraderie: Meeting in person can lead to stronger bonds among members, forming lasting connections.

You can also combine the best of both worlds by choosing a hybrid format for your book club. A hybrid format can allow some members to join in person while others join virtually. Or you can hold some meetings in person and others online.

Tip: Keep in mind that preferences may evolve over time. Be open to transitioning between formats based on the needs and feedback of your book club members.

Choosing a Genre and Theme

Choosing a specific genre or theme for your book club will help you attract members who will be a good fit for your group. It will also provide structure during the book-selection process.

Here are a few examples of potential book club themes:

  • Classic literature
  • Mystery and thriller
  • Sci-fi and fantasy
  • Historical fiction
  • Science and nature
  • World literature
  • Women writers
  • Short stories and anthologies
  • Graphic novels and comics
  • Environmental and climate fiction’

Of course, you can found a book club focused on reading diversely. Such a book club can be a good fit for adventurous readers looking for introductions to books they wouldn’t normally choose.

The most important thing is to choose a genre or theme that you are passionate about. As you get your group off the ground, your passion will be the driving force behind your book club.

Choose a Platform for Your Book Club

Whether your book club meets online or in person, communication is essential for the success of a book club. The most common approach is to choose a dedicated platform for your book club, with tools beyond simple messaging.

Meetup– Well-established platform
– Allows for in-person and virtual meetings
– $28 per month for each group
– Not designed specifically for writers
– Few options in rural areas
Facebook– Most people have a Facebook account– Oversaturated and negative
– Full of distractions
– At the mercy of the algorithm
Discord– Versatile platform– Not specialized for event-based groups
Inkbury– Developed specifically for readers and writers
– Completely free to join and create writing groups and book clubs
– Supports in-person and virtual groups
– New platform with a smaller community*
* You can help us fix that! Join the Inkbury community.

Inkbury was created in response to the inadequate platform options available to writing groups and book clubs. So of course, I think it’s the best!

Inkbury is growing, and I (Victoria Griffin, Inkbury creator) am wholly open to ideas for improving the platform. So if you’re looking to make a difference in the reading community, Inkbury is a great place to start.

Selecting Members for Your Book Club

Building a vibrant book club begins with selecting members who not only share a passion for literature but also contribute diverse perspectives.

If you’re on Inkbury, finding the right members for your book club is as easy as staying up until 2am reading just one more chapter.

Inkbury has search features that allow readers to search for book clubs and for book club admins to find readers who are interested in specific genres. Complete your profile to let users know whether you’re actively looking for a book club and whether you would prefer to meet in person or online.

How to Choose Books for Your Book Club

Make the process of selecting books inclusive and exciting. Implement voting systems or reach a consensus to ensure everyone has a say in the club’s reading list.

Selecting the right books is a pivotal aspect of running a successful book club. The choices made will shape the discussions, engage members, and contribute to the overall enjoyment of the literary journey. Here are some considerations when choosing books for your book club:

Member Input: Begin by gathering input from your book club members. Consider their preferences, interests, and any specific genres or themes they would like to explore. This ensures that the book selections resonate with the collective tastes of the group.

Rotating Selection Responsibility: Rotate the responsibility of choosing books among the members. This approach promotes inclusivity and allows everyone to contribute to the club’s reading list. Members can take turns suggesting titles, adding diversity to the selections.

Book Length: Be mindful of the length of the chosen books, especially depending on the amount of time members have to finish the book. Set up members for success by avoiding creating tight deadlines that make it difficult to finish reading material before the discussion.

Diverse Authorship: Embrace diversity in authorship. Include books by authors from various backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. This not only enriches the reading experience but also promotes inclusivity and cultural understanding.

Author Q&A or Discussion Guides: Look for books that include author Q&A sections or discussion guides. These resources can enhance the depth of your book club discussions, providing thought-provoking questions and insights into the author’s intentions.

Local Authors: Choosing local authors is a great way to support your area’s writing community, and many authors will be willing to attend your book club to discuss their work.

Accessibility: Ensure that the chosen books are accessible to all members. Consider whether the book is available through local libraries and in various formats, such as ebooks and audiobooks.

By incorporating these strategies, you’ll create a well-rounded and engaging reading list for your book club. Remember, the key is to balance member preferences, diversity, and the potential for stimulating discussions when curating your book selections.

Choosing Book Club Meeting Locations

You have a theme, a format, and members. Now it’s time for your first meeting. You may choose to dive right in with a book discussion or meet socially first to allow everyone to get to know each other.

Either way, you’ll need to choose a location that is accessible and comfortable for everyone. If your book club meets in person, consider local libraries, cozy coffee shops, or community centers. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Accessibility: Is the venue accessible to members with disabilities? Is there access to public transportation or parking?
  • Comfort: Choose a venue that offers comfortable seating arrangements conducive to discussions. Whether it’s a circle of chairs or a cozy corner with sofas, creating a welcoming environment enhances the overall experience.
  • Distractions: Opt for a location that minimizes external distractions. A quiet space allows members to focus on the discussion without competing against background noise.
  • Hybrid Logistics: If some of your members attend virtually, make sure you consider potential placement of screens, cameras, and microphones.
  • Reservations: Some venues allow groups to reserve private rooms or seating.

If your group meets online, you don’t have quite as many factors to consider. Select a platform that everyone is comfortable with (or willing to learn), such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet. If your group uses Inkbury, you can host Zoom meetings from inside your Inkbury group.

Be sure to consider your members’ preferences and comfort when choosing book club meeting locations. An inclusive and comfortable environment sets the tone for engaging literary discussions.

Structuring Meetings and Discussions

Organizing effective book club meetings involves thoughtful planning to ensure engaging discussions and a vibrant atmosphere. Here are some elements to consider when organizing your book club meetings:

  1. Introduction: Begin each meeting with a warm welcome and introductions, especially if there are new members.
  2. Reading Schedule: Establish a reading schedule, and clearly outline the chapters or sections to be read before the next meeting. This helps members manage their time and ensures everyone is on the same page, fostering more in-depth discussions.
  3. Discussion Facilitation: Designate a discussion facilitator for each meeting or rotate this role among members. The facilitator can prepare discussion questions, moderate conversations, and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts.
  4. Open-Floor Discussions: Create space for open floor discussions. Allow members to share their spontaneous thoughts, questions, or reflections on the book beyond the prepared questions. This encourages a dynamic and interactive exchange of ideas.
  5. Author Q&A: If the chosen book includes an author Q&A section, incorporate it into your discussion. This provides valuable insights into the author’s intentions and allows members to explore the book’s nuanced elements.
  6. Guest Speakers or Author Involvement: Consider inviting guest speakers, or explore ways to involve authors in your discussions. Many authors are willing to meet virtually or with local book clubs.
  7. Feedback: Provide opportunities for members to share feedback. Ask members for their thoughts on the book selection, meeting structure, and areas for improvement.
  8. Social Time: Reserve a portion of the meeting for social time. Chatting about non-book-related topics can help members connect and develop a stronger sense of camaraderie.

By intentionally structuring book club meetings, you’ll create a well-organized and enjoyable space for members. Tailor these suggestions to fit the preferences and dynamics of your book club.

How to Start a Book Club That Lasts

Starting a book club is not just about discussing literature. It’s about building a lasting community bound by a shared love for reading. To ensure your book club stands the test of time, make careful decisions regarding your group’s format, platform, meeting locations, and book selections.

Join Inkbury for an easy and free way to start your book club and find members. Celebrate the journey of discovery, learning, and friendship that your book club will undoubtedly offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should a book club meet?

The frequency of your book club’s meetings depends on the preferences of the members, but monthly meetings are a common choice.

What if members have conflicting book preferences?

Establish a fair selection process, perhaps through voting, to ensure everyone has a fair say over the books. One of the best things about being in a book club, though, can be reading outside your comfort zone. Try to help members see varied book selections as opportunities to broaden their horizons.

Can virtual book clubs be as effective as in-person ones?

Absolutely. Virtual platforms offer flexibility and inclusivity, allowing booklovers from diverse locations to connect and share their passion for literature.

Is it necessary to have a designated leader for the book club?

While not mandatory, having a facilitator or rotating leadership roles can enhance the club’s organization and structure.

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