A book club can be a fun way to share your love of books and make new friends. But book clubs can fall apart if you don’t begin them properly.
Read on to learn how to start a book club that lasts.
What’s a book club?
A book club is a group of people who meet up to talk about books. Attendees may or may not be friends before joining the group. They often choose a single book to read and discuss each month. They may share opinions or explore deeper meanings they found within the text.
Book club meetings often include meals, light snacks, or drinks. Sometimes book clubs include other activities, like watching movies based on the books they read.
How do I start a book club?
There are five simple steps to starting a book club.
1. Choose a theme. Your book club doesn’t need a sophisticated theme. Maybe you want to read books published in the last decade. Perhaps you want to read books published by women. The theme doesn’t matter as long as you think it’ll attract readers you like. It may be a good idea to stick to fiction; 80% of book clubs say they focus on books in this genre.
2. Decide who can join. Every club chooses its members in some way. You could limit it to locals only. You could limit it to people who pass a literary quiz. Be sure you consider exceptions when you decide who you want in your book club.
3. Select a place to meet. You need to choose where to assemble if your book club is in person. Some people feel comfortable having a club meet at their house. Others prefer to hold it in a public setting, like a cafe or a bar.
4. Get the word out. Next, you need to let people know about your book club. Advertise in a local newsletter or online. There are plenty of online club forums.
5. Start your book club. You can hold your first book club as soon as you start hearing back from interested members.
Why do book clubs fail?
It’s easy to start a book club. Whether it lasts is another matter.
You need to understand why book clubs fail before you can start a successful one. There are a few common problems you can avoid.
Book clubs fail because:
- People don’t like the book choices. People will stop showing up to your book club if they don’t like the book choices.
- The schedule is too frequent. Book clubs take a lot of time and energy—especially if they’re in person. Club members may not come if they feel overwhelmed.
- They are too serious. Book clubs are primarily for discussing books. They’re also meaningful socializing events. A lot of people join book clubs to make friends.
- Meeting in person is hard. In-person meetings can be hard to manage regularly for some people. They may stop showing up if it’s too much for them to handle.
How do I make my book club last?
You can set up your book club for success now that you know what to avoid. Prevent the four common reasons for a failed book club with four simple best practices.
Successful book clubs:
- Rotate book choice. Everyone will get to read at least one book they enjoy if you rotate who chooses books for each meeting. Track who selects which book in a file you can share, like Microsoft Excel.
- Create a realistic schedule. Meeting once a month can be tough. Each club member will have to read one book a month and make time for the meeting. Set meetings once every two months, especially during the launch period.
- Encourage fun. You don’t want your book club to feel like a literature lecture. Loosen up with fun snacks, dress-up or food themes, and small talk. A light atmosphere will ensure that your club feels like a club and not a college class.
- Create virtual options. Club members may get stuck at work, feel slightly ill, or be traveling from time to time. Create a virtual option for these cases. Allow club members to participate through a video call. For example, Microsoft Teams offers a reliable video chat that’s easy to use in these cases.
These best practices will help you start a book club that lasts well into the future.