how to start a book club

I enjoy book club for many reasons—not just the books.  I love it for the friendships we’ve formed as well as the good food.  If you’re not already in a club, here are some ideas on how to begin this new chapter in your literary life.

Decide the members.  If you know several booklovers, then mention your idea and invite them to the first meeting. 3-5 is a respectable number for a club, but my club has had over twenty people at meetings and that was wonderful, too. Small groups can quickly expand if each person brings a pal.  It all depends on what you and the founding members desire. If your friends aren’t that interested in a book club, you can go to your school librarian, public library, or teacher and ask for help in organizing. As a high school teacher, I secretly wanted to time travel back to teendom so I could join the book club meetings in our school library because they always read such great books!

Choose the meeting place.  If people you don’t know well (yet!) are going to be in the club, then it would be best to meet in a public place—like a library or a restaurant. If you know the attendees, hosting meetings in homes can be ideal.  You may consider having it at the same location each time. However, several members may like to host, so this duty could circulate.  At the first meeting, decide how often the group will meet.  Many book clubs meet once a month and find it plenty of time to read a book.

Get the word out.  If members are your friends, telling them is easy. (I love because invitations can coordinate thematically with each book, plus it sends reminders as the event approaches.) If you’re getting help from teachers or librarians, make flyers and post them at school or the library. Ask attendees to come with book titles they’d like to discuss at future meetings.  Your first book selection is easy—you’ll want to read Glamour, of course!

Satisfy the hunger. Although my cooking usually tastes better than it looks, no one knocks down my door at mealtimes. My book club friends, on the other hand, are culinary masters.  Sometimes a host or two have managed the entire meal, but usually it’s potluck with a guideline given by the host. One of my favorite meetings was when we read a book about the Middle East and a member, whose family is from Lebanon, made a variety of delicious dishes to celebrate the culture. Another time, one of the ladies hosted a thematic English tea. Themes always make the meeting more lively and extend the fun.

Keep it creative.  Guest speakers are always entertaining.  One of our members travels around the country reenacting Queen Elizabeth I for schools and clubs.  When we read a book about Queen Elizabeth and the Renaissance, she performed for us.  We were able to have a question and answer session while she remained in character. Also, when a book has been made into a movie, we’ve incorporated movie night to compare and contrast the works. Variety prevents boredom, and we all learn more than just the book.  

Discuss the book.  Although it’s fun to see friends, have visitors, and eat food, don’t forget the purpose for your meeting—the book!   Many books (like mine) have discussion questions either in the back of the book or on the publisher or author’s website (like mine).  As the organizer, do your homework to prepare for a good book talk.  If possible, provide these questions to attendees ahead of time because some people like to prepare their thoughts. Eventually, members will ask questions inspired by their own curiosity: “What did you think about the scene where…?” or “Did this story remind anyone else of…?” or “If we were making a movie of the book, who do you think would be the star?” Until then, remember you can always discuss the basic elements of stories: plot, character, setting, theme, point of view, motivation, etc.

Meet the storytellers.  Many authors are eager to attend book clubs.  Check their schedules. If he or she will be in the area, you can often get a writer to visit. Sometimes a fee is required, but free stuff happens. It doesn’t hurt to ask!  We’ve had several wonderful authors share meals and discussions. If the author isn’t in your area, it’s rather trendy for authors to call in to a club and “meet” with them on speaker phone.

If you’d like to me to visit with your book club during your Glamour discussion, email me at  Please put “book club” in the title as well as the date of your meeting.


Happy reading!