“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night — there‘s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.” —Christopher Morley

Book clubs can be incredibly satisfying for readers of all backgrounds. If you’re interested in learning how to start a book club that you’ll actually enjoy attending, you’ve come to the right place! Let us walk you through the ins and outs of everything you need to get your perfect book club up and running.

Setting up a book club:

Book clubs are a hugely popular way of engaging readers.

Who is it for?
It is likely that this is the first question you asked yourself when you decided to set up your group. Here are some things to think about:

  • Is it going to be an open group with members self-selecting?
  • Do you have a target age group in mind?
  • Do you have a particular group in mind, e.g. ‘reluctant readers’, high attaining readers, mother and daughter reading group (or fathers and sons), transition reading group for children going to secondary school, teachers’ reading group?
  • What limit will you put on numbers?

Are you sitting comfortably?
The next question focuses on where you are going to hold your book club. If you have a school library, this may be the most obvious place. For that ‘book club’ feel, you will want to create an atmosphere that doesn’t feel like a lesson.

  • Is the area cosy and welcoming?
  • What seating arrangement is going to suit you, around a table, informal soft seating? Will you need to have access to materials for drawing, writing etc.?
  • Will you provide refreshments? Books and food complement each other perfectly, even if it’s simply juice and biscuits. For the occasional special treat, you might theme a snack to accompany the book that you are reading e.g. jam tarts for Alice in Wonderland.

Choices, choices – what will you read?

  • How you approach this will be determined to some extent by the type of group you are setting up. For instance, for a group of high attaining readers, you may have the goal of developing greater breadth or offering choices that they may not select themselves. For a group of ‘reluctant readers’, you may want to develop greater independence and build in an element of member choice. Most book clubs involve all members reading the same book so that there is a shared context for discussion.

The time is right
How often should you meet? You need to allow readers enough time to read the book but you also want to keep the momentum going, so once a fortnight, or once a month may be frequent enough. The group may lose interest if there are too many cancellations and postponements through lack of planning.

Ready, steady, go
A book club shouldn’t feel like a lesson, so you need to guard against working towards a set of outcomes and allow the discussion to follow the interest of the group. Nevertheless, it can help to have some prepared questions or statements to kick-start the discussion.

Will you be managing the club, or will it be a group effort? The larger the group, the more likely you’ll need a designated leader. Next, you’ll need to decide how to handle the group’s communication. Facebook groups, email, and a good, old-fashioned phone tree are all viable ways of managing your group to make sure everyone is on the same page (pun intended).

There you have it! It may take a bit of work to get your book club off the ground, but once it’s up and running, you are sure to have a blast. Happy reading!