Starting a Group
Decide how many people you want in your book club and stick to that number. It is hard to have a meaningful discussion with 40 people. 8–15 people is a great number to start.
Decide when you will meet and for how long. If meeting monthly is too much, meet every six weeks or every other month.
Decide where you'll have your meetings. Rotating members' houses? Panera? If you hold meetings at members' houses, do they provide food and beverages?
Decide on a theme and tone for the club. Will you read mostly mysteries, literary fiction, inspirational, nonfiction? You don't need to strictly stick to these kinds of books, but it helps give your group structure and will give your group more focus when trying to decide on a title.
The host for that month may select a number of questions, write each on an index card, and pass them out. Each member (or team of 2 or 3) takes a card, asks the group the question, and leads that discussion.
If you're hosting or leading, do some research on the book, the author, reviews, etc.
Allow time for socializing in the beginning. It is going to happen either way, so just build it into the schedule. Set a time limit of 30–45 minutes though, so that you can get to the actual discussion.
Don't feel you have to talk about each question! If the group doesn't have a lot to say about a topic or doesn't seem interested in the question, move on to a question that gets them talking.
If you're hosting or leading, consider making food or playing music that pairs with themes in the book.
Choosing a Title
Have each member submit an anonymous list of books they liked with a short summary. Drop it into a bowl or bag and at the end of each meeting pull out a title for the next meeting
Substitute a movie for a book for a change of pace.
If reading a book is too time consuming, try podcasts or long magazine articles for discussion.
When deciding on a book, make sure it offers topics for discussion. Books that will stimulate a good discussion may contain:
Complex plots or characters
Controversial subject matter
Periods of history
Don't choose books that are really long. You want to make sure people have enough time to read the book. Set a page number limit for your group and stick to it. 350–400 pages is a good amount.
Some of our favorite go-to sites for book summaries, author information, reading guides, and discussion questions: