How to Host a Book Club No One Wants to Miss.

book club


Over the course of my life, I have been in a number of book clubs. Most have been in Los Angeles. But only this one has inspired a member to drive home from Santa Cruz the day of the meeting just so she wouldn’t miss it.

Here are my 7 tips for how to host a book club that no one wants to miss:

  1. Don’t meet too often. I have seen many book clubs go for high intensity with monthly meetings at the beginning. This will burn people out. Pick a schedule you can sustain.
  2. Let everyone pick a book organically– we discuss our book each meeting and inevitably someone says it seems to connect to another one and then we all decide to read it. Picking a book that follows on the momentum of the discussion keeps everyone engaged.
  3. Keep the discussion related to the book, but let it stray in a meaningful way. At our last meeting, we discussed the Empathy Exams. There was a mixed response- I love the book, and it was my pick- but not everyone did. But talking about how we experience empathy in our lives was a really great conversation regardless of feelings about the book itself.
  4. Have serious book lovers in your group. Several of my fellow club members have worked with me in the book world, including our illustrious hostess. You don’t need professional book people, but book nerds are definitely a bonus. Someone who will stay up late and obsess about a good book- that’s who you want to talk about with, and who’s going to have the best suggestions for other things to read. Keep an eye out- inviting people you don’t know well but who fit this category is a great way to get to know them.
  5. Serve booze, or something equally festive. I try not to have more than a glass of wine every time we meet, but it ends up feeling celebratory enough to continue every meeting. Still, I think this keeps things lively and makes the club feel more glamorous. If you don’t want to have booze, get something sparkling with fresh herbs or pretty garnishes.
  6. Ditto on the food. Our beloved hostess has really gone the distance on serving treats for us every meeting. Encourage book nerds who also bake to join and have everyone bring a treat. People show up for delicious food.
  7. Try a short book- it can be just as wonderful. Along the lines of #1, don’t feel you have to read Anna Karenina in order to justify having a book club meeting. We once read a single volume of poetry and it was fantastic. Books of essays and short stories are great, too, since there are a variety of topics/plots to discuss and people can pick them up and put them down to get through them.

So those are my tricks… anyone else have an amazing book club? What makes you show up every time? Please share your tips and ideas in the comments…

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  • Giusy - I will remind this! I would love to start a book club in my area next fall, and with your hints it is going to be a great book club 🙂ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Thanks, Giusy! Let me know how your club goes. Very exciting to hear you’ll have one as well…ReplyCancel

  • masha - Great advise. Do I dare say this? I never belonged to a book club. ok I said it. The ones that presented themselves to me were always a monthly thing in which I felt it was too ‘hectic’ and I didn’t like the obligation of ‘have to’
    Your 7 tips make me feel like joining. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • caroline - I doubt you’re alone, Masha. I have many friends who have never been in one either. I am thrilled my tips made it sound like something you’d want to do.ReplyCancel

  • Claire - I’m a book club newbie too! I’ve always romantised the idea of a book club, but being a non-driver transport has always held me back. Time to prioritise getting behind the wheel to improve my literary life? Sounds like the best reason I’ve heard yet…ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Yes! I think so. You can do it, Claire!ReplyCancel

  • Dal - I love this post and especially that you don’t meet every month. Most book clubs I’ve been invited to have been monthly and that feels too much. I guess I’m also worried I’ll have books imposed on me that I don’t really want to read! Yet I love the idea, the shared experience and sense of community – maybe I’ll try and get one going possibly bi-monthly. Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Yes! I agree on both those points. Meeting monthly and not allowing the book choices to grow organically from the conversation at each meeting deadens the process and has been what caused me to drift from past groups. Let me know how your group goes!ReplyCancel

  • Awesome Big News General Update - the book dr. - […] Missoula and Lucia Berlin’s A Manual For Cleaning Women. The Krakauer is for my book club and I can really only read it during the daylight hours. It’s amazing, but it is every bit as […]ReplyCancel