Starting a Book Club

By - November 19th 2014.

So, you’ve been a lifelong reader . . . or maybe not. That’s okay!
Let’s look at six reasons to keep or start reading, six ways to form a book club, six ways to run your meetings, and six suggested questions to guide the discussion.

Reasons to Read:

1. Reading helps keeps your mind sharp.
2. Reading fills the hours and starves off boredom and loneliness.
3. Reading reminds you of things you may have forgotten and teaches you new things.
4. Reading provides fodder for conversation.
5. Reading something you normally wouldn’t read expands your horizons.
6. Reading the classics reminds you that some things do last. Read books published in the 21st Century, they will remind you that life goes on.

How to Form a Book Club:

1. Chat with your friends about their interest in forming a book club.
2. Get four to six people to commit (If you cannot generate interest among at least three other people, consider asking those outside your immediate circle of friends.)
3. Plan an initial get-together. Discuss what you each would like to get out of the book club, come up with a list of guidelines, appoint a group leader (someone who can keep the conversation going and involve all the members). And, of course, you will want to choose a book to read. Have several books on a wide variety of topics available. Restrict the length to 250-300 pages so as not to scare off new readers. Always go with the majority’s choice.
4. Get a hold of enough copies of the books for everyone. Once each participant has a copy set a time for your next meeting. You may wish to discuss the first half of the book at the next meeting. You don’t want to let so much time go by that participants lose interest. You may even want to meet once a week and discuss a single book for the month, limiting discussion to the first quarter then the first half.
5. Remind book club members a week before the next meeting and maybe again the day before.
6. As the founder of your new book club, make sure you read the book and make notes along the way so you can keep the discussion moving.

How to Run Your Meetings:

1. Touch base with everyone the day of the meeting to verify who will be able to attend.
2. Open the meeting by welcoming everyone and get right into the discussion. You can always chat at the end of the meeting.
3. The leader should ask one question at a time (suggestions below) and give each person the opportunity to respond if he or she would like. Remember that everyone’s opinion is valid. Conflicting views are fine, but keep the discussion respectful.
4. If the conversation starts to head in an unexpected direction, it is the leader’s responsibility to get it back on track—unless the new direction turns out to be more interesting. The leader should keep everyone involved and encourage them to participate.
5. It is the leader’s responsibility to keep an eye on the time and allow each member to make a final comment or two.
6. You will then want to make plans for the next meeting. If applicable, you will want to choose a new book. Make sure those who didn’t choose the current book have a say in picking the next one. (You could let one of them choose or their vote could count as two this time round.)

Suggested Questions to Guide the Discussion

1. What did you think of the opening paragraph of the book? How did it draw you in and make you want to read more?
2. What do you like about the author’s style? Is there anything you don’t care for?
3. Can you relate to any of the characters? Which one(s) and in what way? (fiction)
4. How did the author make the story/factual information memorable?
5. How do you feel about the book so far? What do you especially like? Is there anything you particularly don’t like?
6. Would you like to read other books by the same author? Why or why not?

Even if you have vision problems, many books are available in large print and/or in audio format. Don’t let failing eyesight rob you of the many benefits of reading and discussing what you’ve read.