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So, you want to start a book club?

Ok, it’s time for a book club. You’re sick and tired of spending all day in front of a screen or having drinks in loud places. When you reach a certain age, it’s no longer fun to meet up with friends in the city center and spend all night walking the streets.

A book club can be the perfect way to meet up and bond with people on a regular basis. But how do we start? We outline some of the best ways people can start a book club and find a new passion today.

What’s Your Type?

Initially, you are going to want to decide what kind of books you will cover in your book club. This includes the difference between an academic book club and a social book club. Academic book clubs focus on elements like plot, character, or the meaning of a book. Social book clubs are inherently more emotional – exploring the feelings evoked from a book. This decision will steer your book club towards what it will ultimately become: everything from the crowd to the tone of the evening will stem from this decision.

Find Your Audience

Now you’ve decided what kind of books you want to cover, now is the time to create an invite list. Generally, you will want to set a date for your meeting at least four weeks before the event. This will give participants enough time to read the book in question or revise it if necessary. Invites can be made through social media – like a Facebook group – to ensure everyone receives updates and progress reports. Generally, the best book clubs host around 10-15 people at a time. This gives people enough space to interact with other people.

Location, Location, Location

Where will you host your book club? It’s an important question that will set the tone of the meeting. You might want to keep it intimate, so participants can create a rotation of hosting responsibilities at their own home each month. If no one has the space to host 10+ people, a cafe is also a great place to meet up to discuss your literary love. Make sure you coordinate with all the members in the group to make sure access is easy and convenient.

Set An Agenda

Most people find it daunting to enter a room and simply discuss key elements of any given book. This is why it is important to have boundaries and restrictions when it comes to steering conversations. If you provide talking points ahead of time, then participants can prepare to discuss certain elements of the book. For example, what are the central themes in To Kill A Mockingbird, and how are they best demonstrated by the author? These initial questions can help kickstart free-flowing conversation.

Snacks and Refreshments

No one likes a hungry crowd! It’s important for the host to provide snacks and refreshments enough for each person. Since book clubs are inherently informal and discursive, snacks can be as simple as chips and dip or as ‘complex’ as mini sandwiches. Either way, you won’t need to cook a three-course meal! While alcohol is always a healthy social lubricant to get people talking, be mindful how much is served beforehand. We don’t want people getting drunk and ruining the atmosphere.

Embrace The (Organized) Chaos

While planning a book club is important ahead of time, you’re going to want to embrace the natural flow of unfiltered conversation. After all, we can’t prepare for unique brainstorming and the subsequent ideas that flow from discussions. After introducing some of the key ideas ahead of the meeting, sit back and go with the flow. This is one of the most exciting parts of a book club: reading is a solitary activity, so talking with new people can introduce new perspectives.

Leave Time At The End

Even if you structure one hour of solid conversation about the book, make sure to include time at the end for social interactions. This is one of the most important parts of your new book club: after all, the point is to make friends. Allow your guests to get to know each other outside of the context and watch new friendships form. At the end of the evening, people can exchange details and see each other before the next meeting.

Good luck for your new adventure! Book clubs are an incredibly meaningful and fascinating part of life – we can’t wait to hear how it goes.