Artful Advice

How to host a good book club

Organize your own reading group with tips from our friends at Bookclubs.

How to host a good book club

The ritual of reading allows for alone time and can be a beautiful, solitary experience. But reading a text in unison for group discussion paves the way for meaningful connections and the discovery of fresh perspectives.

To celebrate the launch of our reading journal, we recently caught up with our friends at Bookclubs to learn more about the app and their tips for hosting an inspiring, feel-good reading group.

Why run a book club? What are the benefits?

Book clubs bring people together. Bookclubs was founded in the belief that book clubs enhance the reading experience, support lifelong learning and build community – our free app makes organizing a book club simple and fun!

Where to start when deciding what kind of club to host?

The first step is defining success: What is the intention behind your book club? It might be helpful to write this out in a few sentences. Once you've decided, include it in your club’s About Us description. Pinning down goals can also help. Figure out what’s important to you: A long-lasting club? A high membership count? Rich discussions? Strong, personal bonds between members? An excuse to see friends and keep your brain active? It may be helpful to rank these priorities.

How to host a good book club

Tell us some of the most unique book clubs you’ve seen?

Bookclubs app serves over 50,000 book clubs in 60+ countries – we’re constantly amazed by people’s creativity and innovation. There are readers utilizing a book club to learn a new language, for therapeutic support groups, and couples spicing up their sex lives with an erotic literature book club. There really is something for everyone out here!

In a few steps, how do we use Bookclubs app to set up a club?

It’s quick and easy. All you need is an email address to sign up, then you can create a book club and invite members, or find an existing club to join based on personal interests, genre, or geographical location.

Checklist for setting up your book club

Download the Bookclubs app & create your club here

☐Customize your club portal with your book club description, photos & social links

☐Add to your digital bookshelves (you can integrate a GoodReads book list or upload a .CSV of books you've already read). Add books you want to read in the future, create polls for your members to see once they join the club, schedule your next meeting, share content like photos or videos or discussion questions

☐Ready, set, launch! Share your unique club link with your network or send an email directly from your club portal

What are your tips for recruiting book club members?

Figure out how many members you want, what their participation expectations are, and feel free to ask prospective members why they want to join. Take advice from Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, and ask “who is this club for first?” rather than “who doesn’t belong?” Be clear about what you expect – members will appreciate transparency.

Reach out to friends, family and coworkers who might be a good fit for your club and ask them to invite other people who may be interested. You can also find quality members by sharing your club invitation link within your social and professional networks.

A great aspect of Bookclubs is it can be virtual. Where do people tune in from?

People join from anywhere and everywhere. We’ve even seen someone join in a virtual meeting using the wi-fi on a flight! Where to meet for your book club meetings is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. Now with the weather warming up and outdoor seating open, there are more possibilities than ever.


Who should select the books to be read?

Many author-led, influencer-led, or library-led book clubs have leaders select the books. Whereas, many private or community-based clubs crowdsource book picks from member recommendations or allow each member to choose a book for one meeting.

No matter what your club’s approach is, Bookclubs can help you manage the process – from interactive polls (avoid those lengthy email chains) to message boards (share your latest book banter), digital shelving (keep track past reads & what your club wants to read next) and curated reading lists (identify the books you’re most likely to fall in love with!).

How can hosts help their members access the books?

There’s a lot of variation – from library books to audiobooks to e-readers. For this reason, we encourage you to support your local library and independent bookstores when you can. If you’re shopping online, you can still support your local bookstore by shopping through for hardbacks and paperbacks, and for audiobooks. A portion of the profits from every sale goes directly to independent bookstores.

Can you share some pointers for setting up the discussion?

One of the best ways to ensure a successful book club meeting is to come prepared with good questions. A list of discussion prompts can help avoid awkward silences and move your club beyond obvious questions like whether or not you liked the book. A great place to start is Bookclubs' discussion guide center, which has guides for hundreds of titles.


What are your thoughts on book club frequency?

There are no right answers when it comes to meeting frequency or format – the important thing is to decide on an approach and manage expectations. You can simplify this process with our meeting poll tools and meeting scheduling & reminders, which sync with member calendars and send automated meeting notifications so you don’t have to!

How important is diversity in a book club?

It’s essential. Reading feeds and challenges our brain; it opens up new worlds and perspectives; it can even reduce stress levels. It’s no surprise that readers come to us with the intention to read different books and authors to diversify their bookshelves.

Tips for handling debates or triggering reading topics.

Whether you’re a book club pro or a book club newbie, it's useful for any group to lay down some ground rules for interaction. We’ve found that the following three actions to help guide difficult but necessary conversations:

  • Listen deeply
  • Accept one another's reality
  • Expect and accept non-closure

Finally, any extra app features that we need to know about?

Recent additions we’re excited about this year are the personalized book recommendations, reading goal function and our Bookend feature – it gamifies and tallies your year in reading much like Spotify Wrapped, but with books!

A journal for your reading journey

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