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7 Must-Follow Book Club Rules for a Successful Meeting

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa

Book clubs are a fantastic way to connect with fellow readers, share your thoughts and insights on a book, and explore new literary landscapes.

But when you have a club with many people, particularly some outspoken members, it’s important to set some book club rules and procedures in place to everyone enjoys the experience.

There is no doubt that book clubs are a wonderful experience. They provide a unique opportunity to discuss literature in a way that adds depth to what you learn, connects you deeper to a book, and learn from other readers.

If it’s your first time organizing a book club, or perhaps you’re new to book clubs and are not sure what the etiquette is, then below are some common and essential rules for a book club that ensure a successful meeting.

Book Club Rules For All Members

Below are some common book club rules that all members of the book club should follow and have a say in.

1. Arrive on time


It’s important that all members arrive on time for the book club meeting, as the venue may only allow your meeting to take place for a certain amount of time.

If members are late, it means less discussion time, or the meeting starts without you and you miss some important info.

If you are running late, please inform the chairperson or another designated member of the group.

Likewise, if you cannot attend a meeting, you should inform the chairperson as soon as possible so they are not waiting for you.

2. Don’t read the whole book, even if it’s skimming

Depending on how frequent your book club is, you should have enough time to read the whole book. However, there may come a time when there wasn’t enough time to finish.

You may be tempted to cram in the rest of the book, and skim read through the rest of it.

This can really impact your understanding of what’s happening and you may miss some important details. Plus, it’s a bit embarrassing when you try to discuss something you’re unsure of.

If you don’t finish, it’s ok. Just tell your group where you got up to, and listen to everyone else’s ideas for the rest of the book.

If you really didn’t have time to finish the book, perhaps skip this month’s meeting and rejoin the next one. It could be that you didn’t enjoy the book or you didn’t have time.

Forcing yourself to read can put you in a reading slump, which is not the point of a book club.

Related post: How to get out of a reading slump

3. RSVP with your chairperson

RSVP with your chairperson to make sure they know you are attending.

If you say you are going and don’t turn up, it can really impact the meeting as everyone will wait for you – and this cuts into discussion time.

The chairperson may run the book club with rules in place where if you don’t attend X number of meetings you have RSVP’d for, you will be kicked out, which is not something anyone wants.

4. Let everyone speak

book club community

Don’t hog the conversation. It’s ok to be passionate, but don’t dominate a conversation as nobody likes this.

Remember that other people may have the same ideas as you, so let everyone have their turn to speak as well.

During discussions, you should remember that everyone must have an equal opportunity to share their thoughts about the book.

Valuing others’ opinions and insights helps to maintain a positive attitude in the group.

Be respectful and courteous towards each other during discussions and listen actively.

5. Come armed with questions and thoughts written down

reading tracker

Don’t think you can remember everything from memory.

It’s a good idea to write down your thoughts and ideas in a reading journal while you are reading, so you have something to refer back to.

Come armed with book club questions and not just your ideas. Think about any unanswered questions in the book and perhaps another member has the answer.

6. Don’t feed into disagreements

During discussions, if there is a disagreement, members must approach the situation with an open mind and a willingness to listen.

It’s important that members refrain from attacking or belittling others for their opinions.

After all, one of the benefits of a book club is making friends and connecting with like-minded people – don’t ruin this with negativity.

If a discussion becomes too heated or tense, the chairperson has the right to intervene to bring the conversation back to a respectful level.

7. Bring a positive attitude

All members must come to each meeting with a positive and open-minded attitude.

Members must be willing to listen to different perspectives and ideas.

Constructive criticism is allowed but must be delivered in a respectful and positive manner.

Members should celebrate the positives of the book and focus on what they enjoyed rather than solely on what they disliked.

Final Thoughts on Rules for Book Clubs

Following rules for a book club is essential to ensure that the meetings are productive, respectful, and enjoyable for all members.

Rules provide structure and guidelines for selecting books, leading discussions, and managing expectations.

By following these rules, members can create an atmosphere of mutual respect and constructive criticism, which can lead to meaningful conversations and a deeper understanding of the book’s themes and ideas.

I hope these rules for book clubs helped you understand the etiquette and procedures for joining a book club.

If you have any more rules you wish to share, let me know in the comments.

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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