how do you run a book club?!

My friends and I have just set up a book club. We’ve tentatively decided to call it The Bodies in the Library, because we are massive Agatha Christie fans. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to stick to crime fiction. In fact, I’m encouraging everyone to bring wildly different genres!

Our oath is based on that of The Detection Club – a group of mystery writers that was set up in the 1930s. Some of its members included Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers!

Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?

However, other than this, we haven’t really put a plan in action. So I turn to the interwebs with questions and pleas for guidance!

What makes a book suitable for a book club?

This is terrible, but whenever I’ve worked at bookstores, I’ve found that the books picked for book clubs tend to be awfully bland. Or recent semi-literary bestsellers. I can kind-of understand why that is – you want it to appeal to everyone, on some level. My friends are 20-something, mainly LGBT+ folks, so I think they can handle something a bit controversial. (I’m very tempted to recommend some erotica, just to see what everyone thinks!)

How many times a month should we meet? 

I read quickly, I know that. Is one book a month too much to ask?

Questions, questions…

I personally don’t like having pre-prepared questions or areas of discussion – this is for fun, not for university! However, I realise that not everyone is as comfortable rambling on about books as I am. Is it a good idea have themes and questions ready, especially if the discussion gets de-railed?

What do we do if someone really, really can’t get on with the book? 

Do they just not show up? Spend the whole meeting ranting? I’m having horror stories play in my head about book lovers going rogue!

If you have any advice for me, please comment – I will be eternally grateful.


13 thoughts on “how do you run a book club?!

  1. Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

    Oh man, I love your book club’s name; it’s brilliant. 😀

    I’ve been an irregular member of a couple book clubs, so take my experiences with a grain of salt! We typically met once every three or four weeks, and voted on the book we’d be reading next. Any book that fit the club’s genre (I was in a YA club and an urban fantasy club) is eligible for recommendation and voting; there were no other requirements for recommending a book to be voted on.

    One group did a “go around in a circle and tell us your thoughts” style discussion (allowing other people to very briefly interrupt to agree or disagree with the current speaker’s thoughts), while the other group was more of an organized discussion, with the moderator (which was usually a different volunteer–and sometimes a pair of them–for each book) posing a broad question (“What’d you think of the characters?”) and letting everyone talk freely.

    Both groups occasionally had to rely on a timer or stopwatch to make sure that the, uh, longer-winded members didn’t dominate the discussion, and allow the shyer/quieter ones a chance to speak. For the go-around-in-a-circle type discussion, there was a loose “you get ~X minutes to talk” rule, with X generally around ten minutes per person (depending on how many people showed up).

    And yep, sometimes people didn’t read, didn’t finish, or absolutely disliked a book. And yep, those people would either not come to that meeting, or come and not contribute much, or come and rant. But attendance and participation weren’t mandatory (it’s not like a class, after all), and those long-winded ranters were kept in check by the loose time limit on how long they could lead the discussion.

    Anyway, best of luck with the group, and I hope you guys have great discussions! 😀


  2. Ceillie Simkiss says:

    I’d say that one book a month is a good pace to have – that way your members have time to read and aren’t there pretending they’ve read the book, like I’ve seen some others do. I think the best books for a book club would be a little controversial, cause those are the easiest to discuss! Blah books lead to blah discussions, and that’s not fun for anybody. I hope you guys have a great time with this, and that you get some good discussions going!

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. luvtoread says:

    Book clubs are such fun! I’ve been in a book club for 6 years now, and have read so many books that I never would’ve picked up had it not been for my book club. The way my club is structured is that we meet once a month, at a different members house, and we rotate months in the same order. We either meet the first or second Tuesday of the month. Whomever hosts the meeting also selects the book we read – we don’t read specific genres, just whatever the host selects. We all bring something to eat to the meeting, which is a ton of fun! I’ve tried many new recipes and new foods by doing this. We don’t theme our food, but many times we’ll make something mentioned in the book, or a style of food that corresponds with the books theme/setting. This is especially fun if people bring the same or similar dishes, as everyone makes things differently!
    We skip meeting in December & January due to the holidays. This also gives us a chance to refresh and for the slower readers, gives them a chance to read something other than the book club selection.
    In terms of what makes a good book club selection book, I like the more controversial and debatable books. If everyone loves a book, there might not be that much to say about it, but if everyone dislikes a book, or if the book club is split on liking it, you know that there will be a lot to discuss!
    We either use the official book discussion questions if a book has them, or we end up writing our own, but also sometimes we don’t use any discussion questions at all – it just depends on who is hosting and what they want to do.
    Enjoy your book club!

    Liked by 1 person

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