Sunday, February 24, 2013

Planning and Running a Book Club

Participating in a book club can be a great way to enrich your reading experience. Discussions with fellow readers lead us to understand books in new ways and make connections between literature and our own lives. Often, we build great friendships with other book club members too.

To get the most out of the book club experience, it helps to put a little planning into it ahead of time. There are a lot of things to think about, but doing so will ensure that your club members have a satisfying experience that makes them look forward to each meeting.

Here are some things you'll want to consider:

  • Choice of book: The fun novel that helps you unwind after work or that you take to the beach may not be meaty enough for an engaging book club discussion. You may want to choose a book with complicated characters, ethical dilemmas, or social issues so that you can have a lively conversation.
  • How the talk will flow: To keep people coming back for more, you want your club's participants to feel free to discuss controversial issues in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Depending on your club's members, you may want to set ground rules so that everyone gets a chance to speak. Every book club is different; some like to have a free-flowing discussion and others structure the conversation around a set of reflection questions.
  • Venue and meeting frequency: Making sure everyone is on the same page about club logistics will help prevent scheduling conflicts. Do you want to meet at someone's home? If so, will that person furnish snacks or will the meeting be a potluck? Or, will you meet at a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or the library? Who will be responsible for making these choices and communicating them to the other members?
Getting a successful book club going and keeping it going can be a challenge, but luckily there are plenty of resources to help you at every step of the way.


Starting a Book Club,” from  This site has many suggestions and links to other helpful resources.

Ten Tips for Starting and Running a Successful Book Club,” by Rachel Jacobsohn

Starting and Running a Book Club,” from

Reading Group Guides has suggested discussion questions for many books available

LitLovers is a website with tips on running meetings, leading discussions, and more.  There are also reading guides for many books with suggested discussion questions.

Find more reading-related links on the Books and Publishers page of our website.
The reading group handbook : everything you need to know, from choosing members to leading discussions Rachel W. Jacobsohn (WPL Call Number: 374.22 J17r)

The complete idiot's guide to starting a reading group byPatrick Sauer. (WPL Call Number: 374.22 S255c)

What to read : the essential guide for reading group members and other book lovers Mickey Pearlman. (WPL Call Number: 011.7 P359w.  There is also a revised and updated 1999 edition available by placing a hold through the C/W MARS catalog.)

Running book discussion groups : a how-to-do-it manual Lauren Zina John. (WPL Call Number: REF 374.22 JOHN)

The New York Public Library guide to reading groups Rollene Saal. (WPL Call Number: REF 374.22 SAAL)

Good books lately : the one-stop resource for book groups and other greedy readers Ellen Moore and Kira Stevens. (Available by placing a hold through the C/W MARS catalog.)

The book group book : a thoughtful guide to forming and enjoying a stimulating book discussion group Edited by Ellen Slezak ; foreword by Margaret Atwood. (Available by placing a hold through the C/W MARS catalog.)

You can always ask a librarian at the Worcester Public Library for help with choosing a book for your club to read. We can point you to some websites and other resources to help you channel your interests into a book club pick. Have a fruitful - and fun - conversation!