Tips for Running a Book Club

I have been running my library’s book club program for two years now and I have learned a lot.  Granted, I am not the only moderator but I am the lead person for this program.  With this in mind, here are a few of my tips for running a successful book club discussion:

Photo of a book club

“Gapers Block Book Club: Water for Elephants” by Daniel X. O’Neil. From a Flickr Creative Commons Image Search

    1. Plan!: Don’t just go into a discussion unprepared.  Be sure to read the book and have discussion questions ready.  It is ideal to have 10-12 questions prepared, though usually only half at most will be used.  I also try to identify the best 3-4 questions to utilize.  Also come prepared with some background on the era of the book’s setting (or even of its writing) and the author to set the scene.
    2. Prepare a List of Read-A-Likes: If the patrons enjoy a book, they will want to learn more.  Have a list of read-a-likes ready.  Include both other books on the topic or a similar topic and other books by the author.  For free resources, Goodreads can be great for this.  If your library has a NoveList subscription that is also another great place to check.
    3. Set Rules:  No one likes it when a discussion gets out-of-hand.  Have a set of rules drafted for the club.  Include things such as being respectful to the work being discussed and the opinions of others.  Also make sure they know everyone has the right to be heard and that they should not speak over others.
    4. Be Ready to Deviate: Discussions are not linear.  One thought leads to another and soon the discussion could wander off-topic or to another point in the book.  Unless the topic is really off-base, work with it!  Everyone reads a book in a different way and that is one reason why discussion can be lively.
    5. Be Ready to Learn:  Every participant has a different background and can provide unique views.  The more diverse the group, the likelier it will be that will be.  Don’t just dismiss those views; consider them and learn from the experiences of others.  Be open to new ideas.
    6. Have Fun!:  Book clubs are not just for learning; you can have great fun too and make wonderful friendships.

Have you ran a book club?  If so, what other tips would you like to share?

Don’t forget my other two posts in this series, about locating book club titles and discussion questions.


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