Top 9 Book Club Rules and Guidelines

Book Club Rules and Guidelines

Being a reader comes with a series of advantages, but also comes with some drawbacks. Reading is a sedentary and generally solitary activity that pushes us to spend a lot of time without physical activity and alone. Well, it doesn’t necessarily need to be this way.

Joining a book club can solve at least one of these problems. Whether you choose a virtual book club or a physical one, there are some universal book club rules and guidelines you should be aware of in order to be able to enjoy the full experience. 

At Basmo, our dedication for everything in the realm of books and reading pushes us to provide you with the most accurate information about every aspect of reading. So, we did some research to find the most commonly used book club rules so you know what to expect if you decide to join one.

Before we start discussing the book club guidelines and book club etiquette, let’s make sure we are on the same page regarding what a book club actually is.   

What’s a book club and what is a virtual book club?

By its definition, a book club represents a group of people who get together at meetings to discuss the books they’ve read. They generally have the same reading list that is established by the club leader and every member is supposed to read the same book before each meeting. During the meetings, they discuss different aspects of the book and try to draw certain conclusions about the writing style, author, and ideas presented in the book. 

While a virtual book club operates in a similar way, what makes it different is the fact that it doesn’t involve any in-person meetings and everything is done online. The members are part of a group, usually on a social media platform, they receive reading assignments, and take part in online meetings where they discuss the same topics that are generally discussed in physical meetings. 

What are the book club rules and guidelines?

As any organized group of any kind, book clubs have certain rules and guidelines that help them maintain order and good operation. These book club norms are in place for several reasons:

  • To ensure the smooth operation of the club
  • To allow every member to have a good experience
  • To prevent avoidable issues and arguments
  • To  ensure that members enjoy all the book club benefits

One thing you should always keep in mind is that even though the book club rules and guidelines I will be presenting below are pretty general and universally valid, each club has its own set of rules and you should always make sure to check them and follow them for a wholesome experience. 

These are the most important book club rules you should know about before you join.

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1. RSVP to book club meetings

Every time you get invited to a book club meeting, the nice thing to do is RSVP. You should always let the host know if you’re going to be able to make it to the meeting so they can organize the evening accordingly. Book club meetings are usually held in one of the member’s homes and the place changes through the rotation between members. 

Treat the host as you would like the guests to treat you when it’s your turn to host the event. Usually, there are drinks and snacks involved, and arrangements that need to be made, so it is always helpful to let the organizer know exactly how many people are going to be attending. Do your part and always RSVP and immediately let the host know if your availability changes.

2. Be punctual

Always arriving on time to book club meetings is essential. You should always keep in mind that the meetings are usually pretty dynamic and once they start, the conversations keep flowing. Being the one who interrupts a heated discussion by arriving late is never a good idea and always leaves others with a bad impression.

Punctuality is a virtue. It shows that you respect others and that you are a well-organized person who can keep up with their own schedule.

3. Read the book

Obviously, you should always read the book. It is probably the most important rule for any book club out there. Going to meetings without having read the book is generally pointless and shows a lack of respect for the other members who made the effort to actually complete their assignments. Of course, you may not always have the time to go through the entire book in the assigned time frame, because sometimes life happens. If you decide to go to the book club meeting even though you haven’t finished the entire book, make your peace with the fact that you are going to hear some spoilers by the end of the evening. 

But you should always make the effort to read as much as possible and ensure that you have a good-enough idea about the book to be able to sustain a conversation about its contents. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time and everybody else’s.

A good way to stay on top of things and keep up with your reading is by using a reading app. Basmo, for example, can help you schedule daily reading sessions and set and meet daily reading goals

Creating a schedule is really easy and the process is highly customizable to meet your needs. You can select the days of the week you want to get your reading done and even different times of day for each particular reading session. The app is also going to remind you of the upcoming reading sessions you have scheduled so you don’t forget about them.

4. Always be prepared

Reading the book is actually just part of the story. You will need to pay extra attention to what you are reading and always stay alert to notice important details that come up. That’s because all these things are generally going to be discussed during your next book club meeting.

The book club discussion guidelines don’t usually dictate how in-depth the conversations are supposed to go, but our experience here at Basmo is that more often than not, these discussions tend to go quite deep. You don’t want to find yourself outside of the conversation simply because you have no input to give. 

To make sure that you don’t forget the important details from the books, you should make annotations and take notes while reading them. The easiest and most convenient way to do that is to use Basmo. 

Every time a reading session is ongoing, the note-taking feature becomes instantly and automatically available. You can simply start typing whenever you discover some information that you think will be useful to remember. Moreover, you can edit and format the notes easily, so you can make them as easy to read and well-organized as you want.

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5. Ask the right questions

As part of your book club experience, you should be able to ask questions that will spark interesting conversations among the members. It’s not necessarily a rule, but it is quite an important factor in establishing your reputation within the group. If you are constantly figuring out ways to keep the conversation going, your chances of getting removed from the book club or to stop receiving meeting invitations are quite slim.

The way you read is going to massively influence your ability to ask interesting questions during your book club meetings. You should always read mindfully, keeping an eye open for possibly interesting topics you can bring up during your next meeting, and with a clear intent to dissect the book.

6. Share your honest thoughts

Your turn to speak is always supposed to be your chance to open up and express your thoughts and feelings about the book in an honest way. You won’t be judged based on your opinions, and even if you are, that’s not something that should stop you from being open. 

You should always remember that just like you’re there to listen to others and their opinions, the other members are also looking forward to hearing what you have to say. They don’t expect you to just agree with what has already been said and you should never let more experienced book club members intimidate you. 

7. Stay on topic

Another one of the important rules for a book club meeting to go well is that everyone should stay on topic. Yes, reading a certain book may remind you of other things you read and it’s quite easy to lose yourself in discussions that stray from the main topic.

You should always keep in mind that all the members are expecting to have nice conversations and listen to your thoughts about the book you’ve all just read. Starting a conversation that leads to completely different things is generally not something that is going to help the meeting be a satisfying one.

8. Listen to others

Yes, speaking up and sharing your thoughts is fun and rewarding. But you are also supposed to do a lot of listening during your book club meetings. One of the most important book club rules and expectations is to listen to others without interrupting. If you want to respond to what one of the members just said, politely raise your hand or simply wait your turn.

Being interrupted is not pleasant, as I am sure you already know. Avoid being the person who makes another member lose the trail of their thoughts by interrupting. 

9. Respect the other club members

Last but not least, you should definitely treat every member of your book club the same way you want to be treated yourself. You should also keep an open mind, respect the other members and their opinions, even when you completely disagree with them. 

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and even though that may differ significantly from yours, your job is not to make others change their minds and agree with you. You should present your own point of view in a neutral and respectful way.

What are the virtual book club rules?

The only way virtual book clubs differ from physical ones is the way the meetings are organized. When it comes to rules, they are basically the same. Even though the meetings are happening in a virtual environment, you are still going to have to obey the exact same basic book club rules. 

The fact that you are having the meetings in an online environment can make it a little easier to forget that you are dealing with real people who are sitting behind a screen like you do and you may have a tendency to sometimes dismiss them or even disrespect them a little. That’s a sure way of ending up muted in the conference or even being removed from the group completely. You should always apply yourself, mind the feelings of others, and follow the common-sense rules you would follow during a live book club meeting.

Final thoughts

Being a book club member can come with a series of benefits, but it can also challenge you and make you more responsible. Use Basmo to make sure you are always on top of your reading habits and that you are a valued member who always obeys the book club rules and guidelines.

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