8 Tips for a Successful Book Club

Book clubs are the best invention anybody could have come up with – besides books of course.

Why do we, Inkish Kingdoms, like book clubs so much? The answer is really simple: we love to analyze books and talk about those books and share complex ideas about them; hence why we created this book site to share complex ideas about the books that we are reading. In fact, if you want to read alongside us, follow us on Goodreads and read with us! We can talk over Twitter, our site, and Instagram about that book in specific.

We have years of experience running simple and complex book clubs depending on the audience, so we offer our experience if you wish to run a book club! Let us go over some of the tips on creating a book club.

#1 Set clear book club rules

It is primordial to ensure that you and any party involved in the book club are aware of how it works, what they have to do, and so on. We recommend setting some rules like:

  1. What books are you reading? Read this article to find different ways to pick a book club book.
  2. Do you allow audiobooks?
  3. What will happen during the book club?
  4. What things/behaviors you don’t want on the book club?
  5. When would you meet? How would you meet? For how long would you meet?
  6. Who is going to drive the conversation?
  7. What are they supposed to do during the meeting?
  8. Are they supposed to just talk or should they raise their hands?

As a recommendation, one of the rules is that everybody should read and finish the book for the meeting, and if they didn’t, they should embrace themselves for spoilers. It is not fair for those that finished the book if they cannot speak freely about it.

#2 Define book club activities

Activities are not games, at least not all the time. Something we have discovered is that people like to have activities related to the book. People learn playing, and that does not change with age. We try to stay away from quiz-like activities to test people’s understanding of the book. What kind of activities do we recommend?

  1. We do Kahoot a lot of the times with silly questions to break the ice.
  2. We do PowerPoint presentations to help guide the conversation
  3. Have snacks and drinks for the attendees! (Another incentive to assist the book club!)
  4. Do teams to play certain games like crosswords, scavenger hunts, jeopardy, and so on.
  5. Play videos o play movie trailers of adaptations and talk about them.

Now, if you wish to drive a more serious and “academic” kind of book club, you can skip step 2 and move to step 3.

#3 Prepare with questions to drive conversations

The main purpose of a book club is simple: TALK ABOUT THE BOOK. So if you or your audience is not into games and just want to have a conversation, jump into the conversation. However, you need order as people might jump to talk about the ending, characters, the setting, and other deep topics and people might not have the chance to talk if we don’t have control. So we recommend to:

  1. Use the questions and the books we recommend on our site. (Book Club Questions) We provide specific questions and an order to follow to drive your book club meeting.
  2. Take thorough notes about the book and start thinking about what you want to ask because this will help you to have the answers, and we offer the answers for our questions in Buy Me A Coffee (available in the Membership tab).
  3. Use generic questions like what was your favorite part of the book? what didn’t you like? what do you think about this character? or describe this character? These questions will allow you to direct the conversation to a specific and well-thought place.

The best book clubs I have driven are the ones where the people actually talk and read the book, so push for them to finish the book and for a conversation.

#4 Make sure that everybody is participating

This one is simple and short, make sure that people are participating. Not all of us will be vocal and eager to share our ideas and to simply talk over someone else to have a debate. Some other people will have a hard time either finding the moment to talk or dare to talk.

This is more difficult when it is live (virtual or in person) book club. Pay close attention to:

  1. Who is not participating?
  2. Who is shy and looking around?
  3. Who has tried to talk multiple times but was interrupted or talked over?

Once you know this, take control over the situation, and give them the space to talk:

  • “Joseph, thank you very much for sharing! We love how passionate you are about the book, I believe Mark wanted to share something but was interrupted before”
  • “I see that Mark hasn’t shared his ideas. Mark, would you like to tell us about what you think about this question?”
  • “Mark, would you like to share something?”

Remember: we don’t want to put Mark on the spot nor make strong participants like Joseph feeling bad for being passionate.

#5 Time if really important

Be aware of your participants time considering the following:

  1. Be on time: If an hour was set to start, you can start 5 minutes “later” to give some time to those that are running late, but if they aren’t there, it would be unfair for those that made it on time to waste their time waiting.
  2. Finish on time: if we set 1 hour for the book club, we should finish at the hour and if you wish to extend it, make sure to ask first. People might have other appointments or plans after the book club, but if they are fine staying a couple more minutes. Do so.
  3. Realistic time to finish the book: make sure that we are giving enough time to people to read the book. If the book is too long or a new genre for some people, they might need some extra time. Also, some people might be slow readers or have a busy schedule with housework or their job.
  4. Stick to your calendar as much as possible: people are busy and they might have busy schedules, so set the meeting to happen not too far in the future but not too close from today. Try to keep the date as scheduled and don’t change it for only one person. Again, that won’t be fair for those that were waiting for the meeting and that finished it on time
  5. Coordinate with everybody in the room:  Hopefully you can set the date with everybody in the room or on the call so that they can check their calendars and confirm there if they can or not. Once you finish the meeting, set the next date with them in the room, and hopefully also the book you will read. (You can do this also for the rules)

#6 Define where you are meeting

Simple, look for options of where to meet. Do you want to meet at your house? In a coffee shop? In a book store? Is it going to be virtual?
You can check with local stores and shops if they offer any kind of accommodation or any kind of service for this. They might even you give a special price. Remember to support your local stores and shops!

These are our main tips on Creating a Book Club! It might seem like a lot, but once you set everything, it would move smoothly!

Share this article if you enjoy it, and if you know someone trying to start one in your neighborhood or building, show them this article!

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