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15 Tips On How To Run A Book Club Meeting

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa

If you’re part of a book club or planning to join one, you may want to familiarize yourself with how to run a book club to ensure an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.

Book clubs often have their own set of rules and guidelines on how to structure discussions, select books, and manage expectations among members.

As well as following the rules, following these tips can help you foster a productive and respectful environment where all members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.

So, whether you’re a seasoned book club member or a newbie, read my book club tips on hosting a book club below to enhance your reading and social experience.

Tips On How To Run A Book Club Meeting

Below are some tips and advice on how to host a book club successfully and smoothly…

1. Set clear guidelines

It’s crucial to set clear guidelines, book club rules and expectations for the book club beforehand. This includes the frequency of meetings, the book selection process, and the participation level expected from members.

Make sure everyone is aware of these guidelines before the first meeting to ensure that all members are on the same page.

You can even write down the guidelines on a shared document so each member can refer back to it.

It’s also a good idea to review the guidelines every so often to ensure that everyone is happy with the current procedures.

2. Decide on a meeting schedule

Deciding on a meeting schedule is important to keep the group engaged and committed.

Typically, most book clubs meet once a month, but you can choose a schedule that works best for your group.

Once you’ve settled on a schedule, make sure all members are aware of it and mark their calendars accordingly.

You can start a Whatsapp Group to share any meeting plans with every member a week beforehand. This could be in regard to the venue or the time the meeting takes place.

3. Decide on genres and book types beforehand

Choosing the right book for the group can be a challenge as everyone has different tastes and preferred genres.

It’s important to discuss the genres and types of books everyone is looking to read in the book club beforehand.

Some book clubs focus only on romance books, for instance. Other book clubs prefer to read only classic literature.

It’s important to make sure everyone is on board with the genres and types of books before you start picking books.

4. Decide on how books are chosen

You also need a system that determines how books are chosen.

One way to approach this is by having members take turns selecting a book they would like to discuss.

Alternatively, you can put a list of books up for a vote, allowing members to choose the book collectively.

Make sure to factor in the length and complexity of the book when selecting it, ensuring that it’s not too long or too challenging for members to read before the next meeting.

5. Decide on who chairs the meeting

people talking in a book club

The chairman of the meeting is the person who invites people to speak and keeps the meeting on track.

The chairperson could be the organizer of the book club, or you could allow the person who selects the book to chair the meeting.

It’s important to have a chairperson to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and that the meeting stays on topic.

6. Prepare discussion questions

Preparing discussion questions in advance can help guide the conversation and ensure all members have an opportunity to share their thoughts.

These questions can be related to the book’s themes, characters, or storylines, and prompt open-ended discussions that allow for different opinions and perspectives.

The book club discussion questions are usually bought up by the chairperson, but it’s a good idea for every member to come to a meeting armed with at least three questions so everyone gets a chance to bring something to the table.

7. Decide on how everyone speaks

book club community

Depending on the size of your book club, you may need to have book club rules on how everyone speaks.

You could give everyone 1 minute to share their thoughts, before opening up a debate, or you could have a chairperson select people to speak.

If you have a large book club of 20 or so people, then it’s a good idea to go around in a circle and give everyone a turn to share their thoughts.

After that, the chairperson should start a discussion by sharing a question, and although it sounds like school again, people could raise their hands when they have an answer.

If you have a smaller group of 10 or fewer, then you may not need to have such strict rules.

Whatever method you choose, make sure everyone is on board and understands the procedure for speaking.

8. Choose the right members

The right group of members can make or break your book club.

Consider inviting individuals who share a similar interest in literature, similar reading styles, and have a willingness to participate in the discussion actively, but without dominating a conversation.

A good book club brings together a mix of different backgrounds, ages, and perspectives and can also make for more interesting and thought-provoking conversations.

That being said, if someone is not allowing others to speak, then it will put other members off coming.

One of the benefits of a book club is that it allows you to make friends with like-minded people.

It’s important to make sure everyone’s on the same page in regard to what they get out of the meeting.

9. Encourage active participation, but don’t force it

person speaking in a book club

Active participation is crucial for a successful book club meeting, but you shouldn’t force people to speak if they don’t feel comfortable.

Encourage members to speak up and share their thoughts, even if they don’t agree with others’ views.

Create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions. This is essential for fostering a productive and engaging conversation, and also allowing people to get the most out of their book club.

10. Have a time-out system

Sometimes book clubs can get heated. It’s important to have a strategy or a system in place for when the conversation turns in the wrong direction.

This is usually the role of the chairperson, who guides the conversation.

If the conversation is getting negative, or people are disagreeing with each other and it’s looking like it turns sour, call a time-out.

This can be a simple coffee break, or direct the conversation in a different way by bringing up another discussion point.

Book club questions are supposed to invite constructive feedback and differing opinions make for an interesting meeting, as well as allowing people to see the book from a new angle – as long as it’s not turning sour.

11. Keep the meeting focused

Adding onto my last point, it’s important to keep the meeting focused on the book and discussion questions at hand.

Avoid getting sidetracked by other topics or discussions that aren’t relevant to the book such as what you’ve been doing at the weekend.

Setting a time limit for discussions and guiding the conversation can help keep things on track, as well as allow some social time at the beginning or end of the meeting where members can discuss their personal lives.

12. Consider hosting a themed meeting

Hosting a themed meeting can add a fun element to the book club and provide an opportunity to explore different literary genres or authors.

For example, you could host a meeting where everyone brings a book from their favorite author or genre.

13. Have a meeting agenda

If you have a large book club, then you may want to make a meeting agenda.

For example, in the first half, we are discussing chapters 1-10, and then in the second half chapters 11-20.

Share the agenda before the meeting. This helps everyone gather their thoughts and know when to share their ideas. Try to share it at least a day or two days before.

14. Have members RSVP

Don’t expect everyone to show up to every meeting. Life gets in the way, and sometimes it’s not possible to make every meeting.

If you have a Whatsapp group, have everyone RSVP a week before so you can count heads and know who’s coming.

15. Keep notes

It’s always a good idea to keep notes on what everyone says in order to refer back to things.

Perhaps someone made a point earlier in the meeting that was brushed over but is more relevant later on.

It also helps to keep the meeting on track and not repeat anything.

Share the notes with members after so everyone can keep a record of their meetings.

Final Thoughts on How To Run A Book Club

In order to have a successful book club meeting, clear guidelines, commitment, and active participation are key.

By following these essential book club tips, you can create a productive, engaging, and enjoyable environment for readers to connect and share their literary insights.

Whether you’re a seasoned book club organizer or a first-time host, these tips and tricks will help ensure a successful book club experience.

Headshot of Louisa

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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