I Started a Book Club! How to Start a Book Club of Your Very Own

Starting a book club is as easy as pie, but what exactly is it, and where can you sign up!? If you’re a book lover you’ll love this idea, so stay tuned for more information…

Group of Book Pages

The dreaded Coronavirus has brought with it many things, some good and some bad. If we’re thinking on the more postivie end of the scale, one of my favourite outcomes from all of this has been more family time.

Before all this, I would go weeks, or even months, without speaking to my family. Now, we link up at least once a week to do all the things you’re supposed to do during lockdown (mainly pub quizzing). Our latest meet-up idea, though, has been my favourite of them all; I started a book club.

If you’re a book lover, you may be thinking, “where can I join?” Well, the truth is that you can set up your very own book club with your loved ones too! All you need is a little inspiration, so stay tuned for more…

What is a Book Club?

A book club consists of a group of people, whether it be friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, or even strangers, who get together to share their love for books. You simply choose a novel to get stuck into together, set yourself a goal of how much to read before meeting, and then get reading ready for your first book club meeting! As long as you agree on the basic protocol of your book club, including your group reading goals and book choices, you’re good to go.

Although you might think that those around you won’t be interested in joining a book club, you may be surprised. I suggested it to my family on a bit of a whim because I’m an avid reader, hoping that at least one of them would say yes. Unexpectedly, both my sisters and my mum were all very keen to join.

With almost no hesitation, we picked our first book club book together, ordered the paperbacks and e-books (depending on our situation), and began reading the very next day.

Cat Next to a Book

My Book Club Rules

How you run your book club is completely down to you. There are no set rules in all this; it’s purely down to you and your group’s social and work obligations. However, we have have just two golden rules to stick to, keeping every book club member happy:

  1. Don’t skip ahead
  2. Don’t discuss the book outside of book club meetings

Planning Your Book Club

Other than these two firm regulations, there are no real rules for a book club; you can make it whatever you want it to be. However, there are some clear decisions you need make before you set off on your book clubbing journey. Some of the main decisions we had to make when beginning our book club were:

  • Whether you want to read the whole book, or take it section by section: when it comes to your group discussions, you need to decide amongst you whether you want regular meet ups to discuss your thoughts so far. Or, alternatively, you can choose a book, finish it all, and then meet up once complete to discuss the whole plot. The key is to make a joint decision, and don’t read any further than you’ve agreed.
  • How often to meet: this has chopped and changed, depending on our schedule, but we try to do a Zoom call once a week to catch up. If we’re not all ready, we push the meeting back, but it all depends on you and your group.
  • How and where to meet: these days, there’s no question that your book club will have to be virtual, unless you’re willing to meet up socially distanced. That said, after all this has blown over, perhaps a regular coffee catch-up could be the choice for you and your book club.
  • How much to read between meetings: after every book club meeting, we discuss how much further to read at the end of the discussion. This usually depends on how we got on the week before, and whether we struggled to finish, as well as our plans for the next week; we aim to be realistic. However, feel free to get all the spreadsheets and planners involved, if you fancy something more structured.

Where Did I Get my Inspiration From?

My inspiration for this idea came from an old school mate of mine, and fellow blogger and copywriter, Celine Callow. After reading her blog post about her book club with her boyfriend, I was utterly inspired, and sent the idea to my family instantly.

Previous to this, I always wanted to get involved in the Zoella book club, and always loved the idea of sharing books with fellow books worms. However, I never got round to it. The closest I came to it was buying the batch of book club books a year late to read them all.

That said, now I can say that I’m a fully-fledged Book Club Boss, and am super excited to see where it takes us.

The Woman in White Flatlay

The Benefits of Starting a Book Club

Since starting my book club, there have been so many positives that have come with it. Some of these include:

  • You can meet up or chat with people regularly who you wouldn’t normally link up with often.
  • It provides you with an incentive to read, which is particularly great for those who would normally put it off, but actually really enjoy reading once they get started.
  • Sharing a plot with people you love is such a brilliant bonding experience.
  • By choosing books together, you may decide to land on a book that one or more of you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. In doing so, and sharing books with people of different tastes to you, you can expand your reading repertoire rapidly.
  • Reading is a way to ground you, relax you, and reduce stress, so adding this as part of your routine will truly benefit you.
  • It’s also a pretty cheap way to enjoy reading. Because you’re plodding through the book together, you should only have to buy a new book for the club once a month, maximum. In most cases, this should cost you each between £4 and £9 each per month or more; great value for a shared experience! That said, if this is a problem, free books are always available somehow and somewhere…

Top Tips for Starting a Book Club

If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re now pretty excited to begin your book club. That said, you might be a little daunted about becoming the leader of yours, so some of your questions answered, these are my top tips:

Who Shall I Pick to Join My Book Club?

Your first question may be who to invite to your book club. You might be a tad nervous to even mention it to certain people, as you may not want to come across as nerdy or lame. However, the right people will be thrilled to join, so try not to be worried about all that.

My advice would be to choose a group of people who all know each other, and who you think would have a lot to say about a book. If you’re nervous about approaching people, it may also be better to choose a group of people who you know enjoy reading as a marker.

That said, if you’re a little more confident, it might be even more fun to try and get someone who doesn’t enjoy reading so much to join. Maybe this could alter their perspective, and I think that’s very exciting.

There’s also no harm in adding more people to the club as you go! Again, there are no rules; just experiment and see what works best for you and the club.

How Can I Organise My Book Club?

As we’ve seen, there are a fair few elements of your book club you need to organise before it’s is fully underway. So, how can you organise this so that everyone knows what’s going on?

These days, we’re pretty lucky that we have technology on our side for things like this. With this in mind, the best way to set everything up is via a group chat. Be it on WhatsApp, Facebook, or wherever your favourite stomping ground is, setting this up will allow you to share book ideas, meeting times, and everything in between.

How do we Choose a Book?

Our first port of call was to simply type in “best book club books“, or something similar, into Google. We each raked through these search results, and shared a few of our favourites onto our group chat, and narrowed it down to one. This was a really easy place to start, as it meant that we played it safe with a book that other people in the world had already read in their book club.

Now that we’re a bit more seasoned in our club, however, I’ve set up a notes page on my phone with a list of books our group want to read. So, as each of us go about our daily lives, and if we ever come across a recommended or interesting read, we add it to the list. This provides us with a load of choices for our next books, and also allows us to each branch out, and read things we wouldn’t normally choose.

My main advice? Be open to choosing books you wouldn’t necessarily read normally; it could open many new doors for you.

What Sort of Things do You Discuss at Your Book Club Meetings?

If you decide to read a whole book before meeting with your book club group, there will be plenty of information online for what to discuss. You can probably bet that you can search for book club questions for the book you chose, and there’ll be some inspiration there.

That said, if you meet up with your club chapter or section at a time, you may become a little stumped with what to discuss. After all, you don’t want to research book club questions and bump into any spoilers! So, what can you do in this case?

Well, you could write your own questions as you go, and maybe even encourage your group to do so too. To do this, if you come across anything interesting or surprising as you go, write it down, and you can probably form a questions as you go.

Ultimately, though, just see where the flow takes you. I can guarantee you that each of your members will have picked up on something you didn’t, so you can all discuss your thoughts on the story so far, any surprises or notable quotes you enjoyed, and so on. Just go with it, and see where your group go with it all!

A picture of a group of women in a book club together
Me and my Book Club Gals

Inspired to Start Your Very Own Book Club?

I hope you’re now inspired to start your very own book club, after reading this. Do let me know, in the comments below, if you’ve enjoyed this post, and feel inspired to give it a go. Or, if you already have a quarantine book club, let me know if I’ve missed anything, and any tips you have! I’d love to hear all your thoughts, questions, and ideas in the comments down below.

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