Wednesday, March 14, 2012

8 Ideas for Hosting a Dynamic Book Club Meeting

I 8 book clubs.

What does a group of women excited to discuss a book they’ve read and ready for good convo make? A mother of a good time.

I love my book club. I’m energized by the diverse group of women in my book club. They add value to my reading experience.

I’m constantly taking notes on what friends do in their book clubs. Needless to say, as a women’s fiction author who writes books primed for discussion, the idea of ladies gathered to discuss books thrills me.

If you feel like your book club might be getting a little stale, or if you’re interested in some ideas to get the conversation juices flowing, or even if you simply desire to put a creative spin on your next meeting, this post is for you.

Theme for Food & Décor
Say you’re discussing The Paris Wife, you might wish to pick out an assortment of French cheese and a nice French wine.

Dog bone shaped cookies for The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Or if you’ve read The Language of Flowers you can get creative and search the index of flowers in the back of the novel, buying one for each guest and attaching a note with its meaning.

My friend served all brain foods when we discussed Still Alice, a story about a neuroscientist who discovers she has Alzheimer’s. Berries galore.

Involve the Author
Authors love to be informed when their book has gotten through to you. Many authors today have websites or easy to find contact information. Consider asking whether the author is open to Skyping during your meeting or even throwing out a question for the group to discuss. Nothing like a personal touch.

Prepare Questions in Advance
Most books come with questions in the back (often labeled Reader’s Guide). But if for some reason the book of the month doesn’t, come up with a set of open-ended thought-provoking questions that are sure to trigger conversation.

Don’t Force Book Talk too Soon
This one seems small, but it’s actually huge. It’s important for members to feel comfortable with one another. 

Allow time for casual conversation, letting topics flow freely. However, at some point designate a time to transition to book talk.

We always know it’s time when someone moves away from the food (alas) and leads the rest of the group to the comfortable chairs.

Tap into Resources
There are incredible guides when it comes to book clubs today. Sites like Goodreads and are wonderful to explore when you’re debating your next book choice.

Also, check with your local library. Ours is fantastic. The librarians make an effort to call around, collecting enough books for our entire group (as many as 10-12). This is a great way to offer an alternative to having to buy the book.

Keep Conversation Open
If you want a lively exchange, one where all parties feel safe to share their opinions (even if that means they hated a book you loved) it’s essential all members know that all thoughts are welcome.

Encourage unique impressions. Offer validating responses. Appreciate how the room lights up with new ways of seeing the world.

Connect with Members between Meetings
Set a standard way of contacting each other between meeting times. We have a Facebook group. Whenever I need to check the time of our next meeting or if I’m curious what others thought of a specific book, I hop on Facebook and click on my Book Thieves group.

Another idea is to combine two book clubs for a novel party.

Switch up Who Selects Book
Some groups like to meet and plan out all their books for the entire year. If this works for your group, stick with it. But another way to go about this is to have each member in charge of selecting for their month of hosting.

This mixes up the style of books that might frequently get chosen and it enables all members to have a role in participating, therefore encouraging their commitment as a member.

What are some book club best practices that you’ve experienced? Heard about? Are you in one? Why or why not?


  1. Reading this makes me want to be in a book club! Soon. Very soon.

  2. All great ideas! Loved them.
    I jot notes and do a "group blog" with a review of the book and everyone's answers. I take a picture with everyone holding their book/eReaders. We all love this.

    We also have a "secret" group page on fb as well! This has been great for posting books, free reads, prayer requests or just chatting in between club discussions.

  3. You're so creative!! I'm not in a bookclub. I don't know of any here. There's one at church but it's non-fiction.
    Wonderful tips here though! A bookclub sounds really exciting. :-)

  4. I'd love to be in a book club...I think it's just something I haven't had time to do. But I love your suggestions, especially the one about being comfortable with each other and encouraging other talk first. I think that's super important!

  5. It sounds like you've got a great book club going on, with a wonderful group of friends. I've seen novels that use book club as the backdrop for the story, and I can see why ... I'll bet there's a fun mix of stories happening at your meetings!

  6. Those are great ideas! I'm not in a book club--but I WANT to be!
    I especially like the idea of serving food or snacks that go with the book. Very cute!

  7. I'm not in a book club, but now after reading your post, I want to be! :)

  8. Great post! Our last hostess for book club did an amazing job! Here is the link to it:

  9. Hey, I just posted about my book club, too! :) We switch up who picks the book and usually have questions picked in advance. We also read a wide range of genres, which I've enjoyed. I'd love to add themed food or decorations, too! Fun post, and great ideas!

  10. Wish I was in a book club:) The interaction is what I always loved about English classes in college, so anything where readers come together is always an engaging experience.

  11. What great ideas, Wendy. Makes me want to start a book club with the lovely women at my church.

  12. Great ideas! Love it.

  13. I love my book club! We each pick a book and the month we want to host - and then we have things planned out for at least the next year.

  14. I'm not in one because of time, time, time. sigh...reading this makes me want to, though.

  15. Anne, exciting. Sounds like some plans are in the works.

    Jessica, I love the idea of snapping a photo. I'm such a visual person.

    Jessica, Maybe you are just the one to start it up.

    Lindsay, I get the time factor. Ours only meets once a month and I eat books so I'm usually able to read them in time.

    Joanne, We actually don't know each other all that well and sort of got thrown together. I'm appreciating the unique qualities in each of the women. And listening to their thoughts...LOVE that!

    Jennifer, I've seen your party pics. You'd rock out the themed part.

    Melissa, I'm tellin' you ladies, time to start it up.

    AKA JR, Going to click over after I finish typing these comments.

    Cindy, I'm with you on the wide range of genres. It's nice to switch it up.

    Mark, Yep, my favorite thing about college too. Man, I miss college.

    Keli, Do it. Do it. ;)

    Memoirs, Thanks for the follow (how are those tomatoes treating you?).

    Stacy, That's how my mom's runs as well. Do you meet to decide or just connect through email?

    Karen, Do it. Do it.

    Do you notice a theme here peeps? I influenced a fellow dance class mom to start one. Maybe I'll rub off on you today. There's nothing like a group of people coming together to share their impressions of a book.

    Huge advocate or couldn't you tell.

    Just picked up my book for next month at the library today. I host. I'll leave you in suspense until a later post.

    Back to the never ending story of my kitchen projects. I created a monster (but some very nice cabinets might I add).

    ~ Wendy

  16. Okay, I'm completely mortified to admit I've never been in a book club. How sad is that?! I love the Paris idea. Can we take a trip to France to make it more authentic? ;)

  17. I've never been involved in a book club like this. I might have to give it a try. Thanks for the great info!
    Happy weekend,

  18. We started our book club about a year ago and it has been working great! We have an overall moderator and each month the host will select the book, time and place of our next meeting. We usually go to a somewhat quiet restaurant with round tables and plenty of wine. However, when it is held at someone's home, there's more freedom to walk around and mingle. In addition to discussions, we have had inexpensive prizes awarded to most answered correctly and least answered correctly on book quizzes. Everyone loved that idea.

    1. Forgot to mention the hosts are selected for the entire year and we always do a group photo at each meeting.

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