Starting a Book Club

Updated on May 20, 2010
K.B. asks from Spring, TX
7 answers

My friend and I were at the park yesterday with our boys and we were discussing book clubs. We both agreed that they sounded like fun and something we would be interested in but neither one of us has any close friends in book clubs that we could get ourselves involved in and we're not the types to seek out a book club of strangers and just go. So we came to the conclusion that we should just start our own.

So I'm wondering about your experience with book clubs, what has worked what hasn't? How large of a group is best? Does each member take a turn choosing the book or do you establish a reading list at the beginning to follow? Does one person end up leading the discussion or is it usually more casual and the conversation gets going on its own?

I understand that the personality of the group will emerge over time and we'll make adjustments for what works for everyone, but to begin with I'm wondering how we should plan things.


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So What Happened?

Thanks for the ideas and please feel free to keep them coming. My friend and I are going to start by sending an email to the women of our neighborhood to guage the interest. I'm sure with summer coming up we won't start anything until the kids are back in school again but we can at least start getting organized. One more question I have, other than Oprah's book club, where do you look for suggestions for books? I'm sure if I google book club lists or something of the sort I'll find something but if anyone has a good source please forward it on.

More Answers



answers from Fresno on

I am in a book club and we have about 7 people, which is ideal. Everyone picks a book for the group to read and when their book is read they host the dinner and drinks at their house. The group members all bring a side dish or a dessert. We usually go with the theme of the book when determining the menu for dinner, so that is a lot of fun. The person hosting gets the book club discussion questions (usually off of the Internet.) A few of the books we picked that were good are The Help, The Red Tent and The Girl with the Dragon tatoo. It is a lot of fun.



answers from Austin on

My book club has about 10 people on the roster, usually 6-7 show up. We take turns picking the book and hosting. We usually get 2 or 3 hosts lined up with book choices, so that faster readers can move onto the next book if they want. There are always going to be people who don't read the book, but that is not a requirement. Usually we spend alot of time discussing good reads in general, then the rest of the time we just socialize and drink wine and have snacks/desert. We try to pick the same day/month so people can keep that day free, e.g. the last Thursday of the month. Most of the people live in the 3 neighborhoods near each other, which makes it convenient. Everyone is only a couple miles from each other. Of course, friends of friends are always invited to join, and over time you will get a committed group of people. People have chosen classic books, Oprah book club books, their favorite author, Pulitzer prize books, lots of variety. I would suggest choosing books that are available in the library or used, because new books can get expensive and less people will be willing to shell out $15 for a book. There are lots of book club lists online. Also, many of our members go to half price books and just look around for best sellers. The best book we have read recently is "The Help". Lots of discussion and fascinating look at the 60s. Have fun!

Also, The Other Bolyen Girl (and all the books by that author have been popular choices)
Blanco County mysteries - Texas mystery fun



answers from Houston on

Hi K.,

You have a lot of good suggestions here already. I've been lucky to be in two book clubs in two cities and they have both been wonderful, bringing new friends and much fun. What I found when my son was younger was that I needed some mental stimulation that didn't involve kiddos!

Based on experience, I think it's good to have some structure for the group and to bring that forward early. It's good if one or two people take the lead to keep everyone informed and reminded. I think it works best to keep the group size around 6 - 8 so everyone gets a chance to talk. There IS definitely a thing as too many people in a book club! Plus you want to have space in your home to seat everyone comfortably.

We've found it worked best for us (in both groups) to let the hostess choose the book for her turn but it helps to discuss possible books each time we meet to get a feel for the response. That way, if someone has an objection they can plan ahead to bow out or another book can be chosen. (I like the idea of a vote but if you have young children you may not have the time to manage that--let alone get the book read!)

It depends on the hostess and doesn't always work, but we've enjoyed foods that fit the theme of the book...but honestly, we are all usually so happy just to get out that anything works! In one group, some months we'd each just bring an appetizer, salad, dessert, bottle of wine, whatever. In another group we take turns and the hostess handles everything. Both ways work well.

Three times we have invited local authors to visit our book clubs and that's been fun. We also just heard that some authors will chat via Skype or on a conference call during your discussion; we may try that.

One last suggestion is about your first book. "Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons: A Novel" by Lorna Landvik inspired me to start my first book club. It's about a group of neighbors with various personalities and lives who start a book club and share the times of their lives. The title is misleading but I think you'd really enjoy reading it before you start or as your selection early into your new club.

Good luck and have fun! In my current neighborhood we often say that Book Club Day is our favorite day of the month!

p.s. Once you put the word out that you are in a book club you'll get all kinds of suggestions for books from everyone and everywhere--you could even post a request here on Mamapedia. In addition to the Bon-Bon book I mentioned above, a recent book my group read and loved was "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford. I've noticed that Books-A-Million has a book club section as well as smaller local book stores--lots of ideas for both fiction and non-fiction there.



answers from Boca Raton on

I am in a book club of about 10 people - not everyone shows up each time, so it is usually 6-8 people at a time. We read 1 book a month and at the beginning of the year decide when it will be held (usually 2nd or 3rd Friday of the month) and at the beginning of the year we also decide which month everyone will have. On your particular month, you get to choose the book that everyone will read and you host the club at your house. The one who hosts provides the wine, refreshments and food. Also, many times, the one who is hosting will find book club questions for the book and ask them to help with discussion of the book. The "meeting" usually lasts about 3-4 hours with only 30-45 min talking about the book and the rest of the time socializing!!
You haveto make sure that those who participate in the club understand that the book club is for fun and you have to go in with an open mind willing to explore reading books you may never on a normal occasion would read. Everyone in the club has different tastes but yet we all respect that and are comfortable telling them whether we liked or hated the book and no one takes offense.
Have fun!


answers from Sherman on

How exciting! I would Love to be in a book club! you're not in the durant, ok area, are you?



answers from Dallas on

I used to participate in a book club and it was relatively small, probably around 8 moms in the club and usually 4 to 6 would show up to the monthly discussion. We had a list of books that we chose from, one girl would pick 4 or 5 books and e-mail the descriptions to everyone and we'd all vote on which one we wanted to read. There were some months when she would just decide on a series and we would do that for a few months (like the Sookie Stackhouse series). We would usually meet at a Starbucks or Border's Bookstore (in the cafe section). The meetings usually only lasted an hour, for the first 20 to 30 minutes we would usually discuss everyone's current family crisis and then for the last 30 minutes the main leader would have a few questions that she would ask about the book. I enjoyed being a part of it and loved the fact that is was a smaller group. It made it easier to get to know the other ladies and also gave everyone the opportunity to be able to talk!

Good luck with your new venture and I hope you have fun! :-)


answers from Houston on

I was just thinking of doing the same thing. I want to start with the book WOMAN FOOD GOD that I saw on Oprah. How do you get it started and how do you find the people that want to join?

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