How to Start a Successful Book Club

Book Image:  Brittany Stevens

Book Image: Brittany Stevens

My coworkers and I started a book club at the end of last year and it's been so much fun! It's challenged me to read books I wouldn't have otherwise read and it's been great to have meaningful conversations about big ideas and diverse experiences. With how much I've been loving our monthly book club meetings, I'd figure I'd share some of the wisdom I've collected since starting ours. I remember that the hardest part (like anything) was getting started and knowing how to have an engaged book club, so here's my advice: 

1. Thoughtfully select a group of readers 

I've often heard about book clubs essentially turning into wine groups because nobody finished the book so there isn't much to converse about. But, if that's the case -- just start a wine club without the guilt! Book clubs with dedicated readers are SO much better when people actually care to make time to read the book and are able to offer thoughtful commentary. Since my book club is with my coworkers and we're constantly communicating on Slack already, we take turns creating a few questions before every book club to get people thinking about the book and it makes for much better conversation. 

stack of books to read

2. Set up Group Communication 

As I mentioned above, my office book club uses the app Slack to communicate, which I think is a great way to set up group communication in general. I've used it for a gym group I used to meet up with and discussions for a creative group for Yellow Conference too. If you're not sure what Slack is, here's a quick explanation. I find it's better than a group text because it's less annoying with notifications and you can choose when to view it. We use Slack to vote on which books we want to read, where we're hosting, etc. Plus, emojis! You can use all the emojis you desire. 

slack bookclub voting

3. Set Up a Democratic System 

Choosing a book that an entire group of people can agree on can be a little tricky. So here's my book club's system to help you see one way that works for us: 

  • We choose a new literature theme every month [i.e. a classic, books that are soon to be a movie, etc.]
  • Everyone makes a book suggestion that falls under that month's theme and then we all vote on one. Sometimes this requires more narrowing down of votes, but usually there's an easy winner. 
  • The person who suggested the "winning" book that month creates questions to prompt conversation before book club AND they get to pick the next month's theme! 

This process has worked well for us and it's fairly democratic because it always results in different people getting to participate and vote. 

read more

4. Rotate hosts and food/drink contribution

Another way to make sure book club stays fun and not too stressful is taking turns hosting, that way it doesn't fall on one person's shoulder every month to make accommodations. Along with the monthly literature theme, we usually try to pair up a matching food theme. Last month we had a "Spring theme" and as you can tell it was pretty cute complete with veggie garden pots and peeps! Next month our theme is world literature so we'll be making and sharing different dishes from around the world. It makes things pretty festive and is a great excuse to try things you see on Pinterest but never have a reason to do otherwise. #bookclubperks 

book club food ideas

Extra Tips: 

  • Be flexible if you choose a longer book, you might need to allow a couple months to accommodate people. 
  • Send reminders about book club at least a week in advance 
  • Allow extra time for just hanging out! Since my book club is with coworkers, it's extra fun to have some time to talk about non-work related things for a bit.
books and flowers

Have you ever wanted to start a book club? If you're in one, are there any tips I missed?