Learn How to Start and Run a Book Club

How to Start and Run a Book Club

Being part of a book club comes with a series of benefits. It is entertaining, it boosts your reading habits, and, let’s face it, it can be quite fun if we manage to find a club that meets our expectations. Not all book clubs are the same, and we can often find that their reading lists, schedules, rules, or even members are not exactly what we had in mind when we first joined.

If you already went through a couple of book clubs and haven’t found them satisfactory, it may be time for you to start thinking of making your own. 

Here at Basmo, we think you should possess all the necessary information to be able to achieve anything you want in your reading endeavors and that includes learning how to start a book club and how to run a book club. That being said, let’s take a look at what you should know as a book club owner.

How to start a book club?

Starting a book club can be a very rewarding activity, as long as you do it the right way. Whether you do it because you’re unhappy with the way things were done in book clubs you were previously a part of or simply because you feel like leadership roles suit you well, you will need to learn the proper way of running things. 

One thing you should know from the start is that on top of the pleasure you get when you organize a book club, you are also going to be faced with quite a lot of responsibility. It is up to you to turn your club into a successful one and not putting the work in is not an option. So, with cutting corners clearly moved out of the picture, here are the most important steps to starting and successfully running your own book club.

1. Decide on your goal

As you may already know, book clubs are quite varied. Some are more social than anything else, others are highly niched, while a few are very academic. So, what do you have in mind? Do you want to start a book club as a good excuse to socialize with people you like and discuss interesting, but easy-to-read books? Are you interested in the more academic approach? Or do you want to meet people who share the exact same preferences in terms of books?

Establishing a clear goal or a clear theme for your book club is going to make every other decision a lot easier to make and the whole process a lot smoother. 

2. Who are your members going to be?

A book club cannot really exist without a decent number of members. What a decent number of members means clearly varies from one club to another. Are you looking for a cozy group of close friends to meet every other week to discuss books? Or are you aiming a lot higher hoping to create a much bigger book club? While your choice is entirely up to you and there is no rule to what your book club is going to look like in terms of attendance, your decisions are going to affect how you run things. 

One thing that will be considerably affected by the number of members in your club is the location of your meetings. If it’s just going to be you and a couple of friends, you can easily have your meetings in the members’ homes on a rotation schedule. If the number of members exceeds what your homes can comfortably accommodate, you will need to look for alternative solutions in terms of venues. 

On top of this, there is always the question of how you will actually find and sort through the members who will join. Are you going to be solely responsible for bringing people into the mix or are you going to delegate this to your most trusted members?

3. Online or in-person? 

Your next important decision is whether you want your book club to have physical meetings or if you want everything to happen online. Obviously there are advantages to both ways, but it’s your book club – your rules. 

Running physical meetings can be a great way to socialize and they can turn out to be quite entertaining. On the other hand, an online book club is significantly easier to run and it is a lot more convenient: there is no need to figure out where to meet, logistics are a lot simpler, but you won’t enjoy the benefits of meeting your club members in person.

4. Location, location, location

If you decide to go for the in-person type of book club meetings, the next thing to consider is where these meetings are going to actually happen. That depends a lot on how big your book club is. If we’re talking about a handful of members, you can easily do your meetings in coffee shops or restaurants. If the number of members and the size of your home allow it, you could even host a book club meeting in your living room. 

A bigger number of members means that you will need a lot more room for your meetings. You can try having them in a library or even at a public school after hours, if you manage to make an arrangement with the director. Another option in certain cities is to simply rent out a library for the time of your meetings.

5. Create reading lists

Now that everything else is already decided on and settled, it’s time to give the books some thought. You will be the one dictating what books all members are going to read, so in order to keep them engaged and interested, you are going to have to make a really good selection.

If your book club theme is quite niched, your job should be rather easy: select the best titles in the genre you are focused on and continuously do research to find others. Of course, there is always the option to allow members to make suggestions and set up a poll or voting system to add new books to the reading list. That way you make all members feel heard, you have a less difficult role, and you can actually end up reading some amazing books you never heard of yourself.

A great way to manage your reading list is using a reading tracking app like Basmo.

With Basmo, you can create as many reading lists as you want, and you can personalize them however you see fit. Adding or removing titles from the list is quick and easy and more importantly, the risks of losing it are quite low. 

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Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time. 

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6. Generate discussions

The discussions about the books all members read are part of the reason why book club meetings are so great. As a book club leader, you should always be prepared to keep the conversations going. 

You need to learn to ask the right questions and to figure out ways to get as many members as possible involved in the discussion. You can either do this by setting up a rule where every member gets to have their say about the book they just read, or you can be actively involved in the discussion and pay attention to make sure that everyone else gets to share their thoughts. 

7. Meeting schedule and prep-work

Running a book club is fun and rewarding, but it can also be a lot of work. If you want to make sure that things are running as smoothly as possible and that everyone is having a blast, you should be very careful with the way you schedule your meetings.

Depending on the books on your list, the number of members, and how busy or flexible they are, you can choose different frequencies for the meetings. Whether it’s once per week, every other week, or once per month, the decision can make or break your book club.

Especially in the beginning, when your book club is still small, you should always consult with the members to see what works best for them. You wouldn’t want to lose members just because they cannot find the time to read the books or attend the meetings. 

Also, snacks! If your meetings are going to happen physically, you should never have one without some snacks. 

How to start a book club online?

The process of starting a book club online is quite similar to the one of running one where the meetings are done in person. There are many platforms that can help you create and manage your book club: social media groups, dedicated book club platforms, and video-conference apps or tools. 

Realistically, for a small online book club, all you really need is a Whatsapp group, but it depends on how professional you want to be and the kind of experience you want to provide to your members. 

Of course, another thing that differs considerably when it comes to online book clubs is that meetings are going to be a lot easier to set up and attend, and there is no limit to how many members can join. You don’t need to worry about actually hosting the meeting, providing snacks, and making sure your location is big and comfortable enough.

Frequently asked questions about starting a book club

I am sure that the thought of starting your own book club can feel somewhat overwhelming at first, but we are here to help. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we hear and our recommendations.

How to start a book club with friends?

Learning how to start a book club is always easier with friends. If your buddies are also interested in reading, you can have them as the first members of your book club. When you’re among friends, you get a chance to share the experience with people you like and love. 

Getting started with your book club can be as easy as having a talk with your best friends and thinking about solutions together. You can decide together on the books you read, you can set up your meetings at each other’s homes, and you are almost guaranteed to always have a great experience.

How to start a book club at work?

Starting a book club with your coworkers can be a surprisingly fun and team-bonding experience. You can learn a lot of fascinating things about the people you work with by learning about their reading likes and dislikes or how they actually perceive the things they read. 

You can easily send an email to all of those who might be interested, make some fliers and hand them up in the break room, and, if the company allows it, you can even use the office space for your meetings after hours. 

How to run a book club meeting?

Running a book club meeting differs significantly depending on whether you are running an online or in-person book club.

While an online meeting can be set up in seconds through a plethora of tools dedicated to providing top-quality video conference experiences, live meetings are a bit trickier.

You will always need to keep in mind how many members are in your club, to make sure every single one has a place to sit, something to eat and drink, that everyone follows the book club rules and guidelines and you will be responsible to a certain extent for the success of each meeting.

Considering how challenging it can be to run your own book club, it’s safe to assume that you are going to need all the help you can get. Luckily, using a reading tracking app like Basmo can completely change how you do things and how difficult your role is.

With Basmo, you can write notes while reading 

That way, you can easily remember all the important information from the book you need to get through until the next meeting. You can write down important questions to ask during your book club meetings to ensure that the conversations never stop.

You can use the scheduler

Basmo comes with a scheduling feature intended to help you stay on track with your reading habits. Obviously, since the scheduler is flexible and allows you to personalize it however you see fit, you can use it for different other things related to your book club activities.

Reading lists are easy to manage

As I already mentioned, reading lists are extremely important for a book club owner. With Basmo, creating, managing, and updating reading lists is easier than ever before.

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Final thoughts

Now that you know how to start a book club and what you need to do in order to keep it running smoothly, it’s time for the big decision: what kind of book club would you like to start?

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