Starting a New Book Club: Figuring Out Meeting Logistics

Dates, times, who, when, where, and what

As you get started, you’ll need to determine a lot of the logistical details for your book club meetings. Sometimes this needs to wait until you have some possible members, and sometimes possible members need to know these details before they know if they’re interested or able to join.

Booked {Reading Together} | Book Club Meetings: Figuring Out Logistics

  • When will you meet? At regular times (such as the first Monday of every month)?
  • How long will you meet? Especially if someone is arranging childcare, they will want to know an end time.
  • Where will you meet? At someone’s house? At a local coffee shop? At the library? A public location may be less intimidating for new groups, but established groups may prefer meeting in member’s homes. Be sure to consider transportation and parking concerns if those may be an issue for your members.
  • Who is welcome? Women only? Men and women? Children? Babies only? Visiting guests from out of town? Will there be official membership or will it always be open? Can membership be revoked?
  • What will you discuss? Is your book club going to be focused on the classics? Literary fiction? Nonfiction? Bestsellers? Young Adult books? Books that have been turned into movies? If you have specifics on what types of books you’ll be reading, you’ll want to share this. It will help you find members who are a good fit for your book club.

Why does it matter?

As you get started is the ideal time to make those decisions as to what types of books you will and will not read. If there are limits on subject matter, now is the time to set them, keeping in mind that one of the great benefits of book clubs is to broaden your reading horizons.

You may need to have an initial, introductory meeting to settle many of these organizational issues, or you may decide to establish them yourself with the core members of your reading group (if you have that already established).

How We Do It

My book club meets monthly, on the second Thursday of every month at 7:00. The standing date and time makes it easy to remember. While the discussion is scheduled to formally end at 9:00, casual chatting and catching up may last longer. We’ve met in restaurants and coffee shops, although recently we’ve generally met in a member’s home (rotating locations).

Once a year we meet at a local park (more on this later). Our group is for women only, and while babies are always welcome, older children are only invited to the yearly kids-club (more on this later too).

The books we read vary – we read fiction and nonfiction, bestsellers and lesser-known titles. Our main focus is to “broaden our horizons through the reading of great literature.” How that works in practice is we try NOT to select books we’d probably read anyway, and we try to balance the types of books we read over the course of the year.

Additional details you’ll (eventually) need to determine:

  • How are you going to share information: Evites, email, facebook group, website. You want to make it easy for people to find out what you’re reading and when/where you’ll be discussing.
  • How is the discussion going to work? Are you going to have one person facilitate? Will that be an assigned job? Will it rotate? If you meet at someone’s house, is that person automatically the discussion leader? Is that person automatically NOT the discussion leader?
  • Will you require people to host a meeting, or will it be by volunteer basis only?
  • What about when members are gone – do you video conference them in?

You may also want to establish rules for the meeting, such as

  • only attend if you’ve read the book (or, attend whether or not you’ve finished it!)
  • no smoking
  • no kids
  • no pets
  • no distractions (TVs/phones)
  • no extraneous discussions during the meeting time

Booked | Reading Together | A Series All about Book ClubsBooked: Reading Together

This is part of the Booked: Reading Together series. Throughout October, I’m writing all about book clubs.

Check out the archives in case you missed a post.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: September 2014 Recap
Two years ago: 31 Days of More Great Nonfiction: Deeply Loved
Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Eat That Frog

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