Pick a book. Read it. Talk about it. There’s more to hosting a book club than these three steps. Here are a few more suggestions to start and maintain a book club with friends.
5 Blocks to Building a Book Club
- Find a Purpose – Why do you want to have a book club? There are several great reasons for getting together (and a few bad reasons). Good reasons include developing meaningful friendships with those who share your interests, discipling younger women on topical issues, thinking hard about deep concepts, and practicing communication skills in friendly discussion and debate. (Bad reasons include boasting and gossiping.) Knowing your purpose will help you make better choices in the other areas.
- Pick a Book, a Place, and a Plan – To avoid spoiling the plot, a fiction novel should be read in advance and discussed in one meeting. I’ve done a non-fiction book in one shot by providing a meeting outline to move through the key points and keep the discussion on track. Usually, it’s nice for busy moms to read and discuss one or two chapters at a time, but don’t forget to challenge the group to apply something they’ve learned and report back. If friends are unsure about discussing books, consider reading the book aloud together at your meeting.
- Invite People – Your first, written invitation should include all of the details about the book and the scheduled meeting. Send the invite at least one month before the meeting so that friends have time to buy and read the book. Send quick reminders two weeks and one week before, asking for RSVPs and snack contributions, and telling who else is attending. For ongoing discussions, pick a regularly monthly date (such as the first Tuesday of every month) but send regular reminders of the next date, location, and chapters to be read and discussed.
- Foster Discussion, Face Conflict, and End in Peace – While you may have a few friends that just want to listen, most people want to participate in the discussion, so take turns. Send an outline or the discussion questions in advance to prepare answers. (For example, here is a printable list of the Book Club Discussion Questions for my Christian fiction novel “Elephant in the Room.”) The host should moderate to keep answers focused and include everyone. If conflict arises, give each side a short time to make their final point before ending in a handshake.
- Follow up – Review your purpose for the group. Did you have fun with your friends? Did you find things to change in your life? Do you need to do research to understand more? Did everyone get to practice speaking and listening? If you have satisfying answers to these questions, then make plans to meet and chat again. If not, what do you need to adjust in your Book Club to accomplish your purpose? Then make plans to try again.
Summer is a great time for one-shot book parties. Fall is a great time to start a regular book club, but it might take you a few months to find the best plan for your group, so keep trying. Let me know in the Comments below your best tips for hosting a book club! Next week, I’ll tell you about some special events I recommend if you’re reading my Christian fiction novel, “Elephant in the Room,” with your Book Club.