Skip to content

How to Start a Book Club: 10 Tips From Experts

It's a fun way to meet people and check books off your list.

If you're a big reader, then you know the frustration of finishing a great book and having no one to talk to about it. Sure, you can scan online reviews and Goodreads comments, but there's nothing quite like meeting with a friend and sharing your thoughts over a cup of coffee. That's the idea of book clubs. If you're wondering how to start a book club of your own, keep reading. We asked librarians and other book pros for their best tips for launching one and keeping it going.

RELATED: 16 Ways to Create a Cozy Reading Nook.

Tap friends of friends.

Friends enjoying Outdoor Dining Social Gathering

The first step in starting your own book club is finding members—anywhere from four to 15 is great. Laura Radocaj, founder of Radocaj Creative and leader of the Get LIT(erate)! book club since 2016, says her club started with a few pals.

"Each of us, from different friend groups, picked two women to join, totaling 12 members," she says. "We liked this number and have kept it to maintain intimate conversations."

When members leave, you can swap in someone new.

Create a unique theme.

paris themed decorations for retirement party
TobinCStudio / Shutterstock

"Members love a unique book club theme or activity that makes the meetings more interesting and interactive versus read-and-gathers," says Stephanie Saba, libraries manager for San Mateo County in California and author of Book Club Re-Boot.

She's seen themes like walk-and-talks, where each discussion takes place on a stroll, cookbook book clubs where the group picks a different cookbook each month and members make a dish from it for the gathering, or a mother-daughter or father-son book club.

You could also base your theme on a book genre."Our overall theme is horror," says Louisa Smith, editor and founder of Epic Book Society. "Themes are incredibly important for keeping interest."

RELATED: 20 Hobbies for Women That Will Enrich Your Life.

Keep the date consistent.

Woman writing in planner or calendar / Shutterstock

Scheduling any large group of adults can be a nightmare. So, keep your time and date the same for each gathering. Pick something like the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. and stick to it.

"If you try to find a different time and day that fits everyone's schedule each month, it will never work," says Radocaj. "You'll end up spending more time on logistics than reading!"

Try rotating leaders.

Three women sitting at a dining room table discussing a book while drinking red wine
South_agency / iStock

"Each month, we rotate the responsibility of selecting the book, hosting, and leading the discussion," says Radocaj.

This helps everyone feel responsible for the group's success. The person in charge can choose to host the meeting at their home or a restaurant.

Send reminders.

Young man sitting at the desk, doing an IT work or just casually browsing the web, checking e-mail, using social networks. He is having a cup of coffee, sitting in the living room of his Los Angeles loft apartment.

It'll keep the group on track. "I send out a weekly email with suggested chapters and thoughtful questions to help them digest the info," says Julie Vincent, wellness coach and founder of Mindful Book Club.

RELATED: The 20 Most Famous Historical Fiction Books Worth Reading.

Foster great conversation.

Group of young women reading books together sitting on the living room floor.
LeoPatrizi / iStock

This is arguably the most important thing to get right in your book club.

"The best book club experiences start with a broad discussion, which can take on a life of its own based on each of the members' own life experiences," says Saba. "This is especially the case when you have a diverse membership, contributing to rich discussions."

You don't need to overthink your questions, either. "A broad, generic question like, 'Did you like the book' is a great opening question because people don't have to worry, 'Did I interpret the book the right way?'" says Saba. "Rather, they bring their own experience and can jump in lightly to the discussion."

You should also ensure each member of the group gets a chance to speak, even if they're shy. "It helps to have an activity, like coloring or walking, to make it less formal so people are more inclined to share—a casual environment can help with conversation," says Saba.

Choose books together.

Group of women and men attending a book club meeting
ljubaphoto / iStock

This way, everyone gets a say. "We discuss potential books that are on everyone's reading list and decide collectively what to read next—whereas some book clubs have members take turns selecting books," says Smith. "We've found running a democracy where everyone gets a say much better at keeping interest."

RELATED: 6 Unforgettable Road Trips Inspired by Famous Books.

Don't be afraid of controversy.

Shot of a group of women attending a book club meeting at a bookstore
pixdeluxe / iStock

When you're picking books, don't avoid ones that might fire up your group.

"Controversial books are great—we have a range of women in our group with different beliefs, but we all respect each other and our opinions, even if they differ," says Radocaj. "Some of my favorite gatherings have been on hot pressing topics."

Chat with your library.

two young women and a young man chatting and drinking coffee in a library
Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock

The folks there can help supplement your club. "Libraries will often host author visits, book signings, and literary events, and book clubs can take advantage of these events to bring together their members in a new way to interact with authors, gain deeper insights into books, and participate in larger literary conversations," says Saba.

Stay nimble.

Cheerful woman in the park with her friends

This is key to ensuring your club's longevity. "Instead of thinking, 'This is how my book club should be,' be open to finding the right fit for your community," says Saba. If something's not working, be willing to pivot.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
Filed Under