“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

~Joyce Carol Oates

Are you ready to learn how to start a book club? Reading can be an isolating experience, but reading in a community is a precious gift. Perhaps the isolation is what you like about reading? When you do it right, your entire being is transported to another world for a few hundred pages.

To share your literary travels with another person allows you to connect deeply with them. If you find yourself among a small group of people willing to explore a reality an author creates for you, then treasure that, but treasure it with others. Starting a book club will allow you to celebrate these travels. Below you will find my comprehensive guide on how to start a book club.

Very few people, even among avid readers, are actually involved in a book club. Some don’t know how to find a willing group of friends. This is where I was a few years ago. I was reading all the time–partly for my job but mostly for pleasure. I wanted to connect with other minds and discuss ideas. Because we lived in a brand new town, I had the opportunity to start a book club that was entirely my vision. If you can’t find the right book club to join, it’s up to you to start your own and make it an ideal book club. Here are some aspects to consider as you think through that first meeting.

How to Start a Mind-Blowing Book Club


Choose Great Books

Choosing a great book is not as easy as it sounds. The book you have in mind might be on every must-read list on the planet, but that doesn’t mean it will hit a home run with your friends. What resonates within a group setting usually differs from what critics consider good. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

How to Start a Mind-Blowing Book Club


Reclaim Conversation

Good Conversation is an art, and it’s growing increasingly lost. Reading stories increases one’s aptitude for empathy or genuine human connection, but this is still limited. In her new book, Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle explains the importance of conversation: “Research supports what literature and philosophy have told us for a long time. The development of empathy needs face-to-face conversation. And it needs eye contact.” You are bringing people together for a few hours and asking them to look one another in the eyes. This is the beginning of the connection. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you invite friends to join you.

How to Start a Mind-Blowing Book Club


Start With Why

Before moving forward, think about why you are venturing outside of your comfort zone to start a book club in the first place. It helps to decide what your goals for your book club are. We have young kids, and our family is very committed to our routine. Any time we deviate from this, it throws our whole world off for a few days. I am committed to the chaos that follows book club. Why? Because I know it’s worth it to connect with friends in this way. It feeds my soul like nothing else.

My husband is supportive of this and committed to being home on time, helping me get our house ready for friends, and taking care of our little one, who is used to having us both put him to bed. It’s not always perfect. We all know why this is so important to me, so it becomes important to us as a family. So what is your why? As you think through that, here are some tips to keep in mind as the host of your first book club.

Try not to talk about the book with your friends before your actual book club. I like when all of us keep our reading experience to ourselves and our emotional response to the book is bubbling up within us and ready to explode. I genuinely want to know what my friends think of the book, which parts resonated with them, and what they thought of the more intense scenes. If I find out all this before we meet for book club, we lose a little magic during the conversation.

Remember how C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”? If you want your book club to blow minds, then you want these moments to happen in conversation together. What is fun is that books bond you and your friends for the rest of your lives. You might not talk about a book before the book club event, but you and your friends will reference it for the rest of time. That’s the power of a good book.

How to Start a Mind-Blowing Book Club


Comfort is Key

Location is important because you want to make sure your guests are comfortable. A home setting is often the most relaxed. I’ve also met with friends at crowded coffee shops and even in church buildings. It’s tough to control the music volume at the coffee shop or the decibel of a screaming child. Nonetheless, if you don’t know your guests well, it can be more comfortable for them to show up at a coffee shop instead of in your home. If you decide to host in your home, you can add a little magic to the ambiance, even if you don’t have the gift of hospitality.

While decorations can be festive, there is no reason to go over the top. If you add a bouquet of fresh flowers in the spring, you’ll be good to go. You can stack a couple of pumpkins in the fall. One of my favorite book club gatherings was on my back porch on a warm summer evening in the Southern California desert. I strung some white twinkle lights up, creating more than enough ambiance to propel a dynamic and engaging conversation. Your Christmas tree is plenty festive during the winter months. A tea light candle or two goes a long way to create a feeling of comfort and warmth. Simply put, you don’t need much. If you are comfortable, then your guests will be comfortable.

These tips will guide you on how to start a book club. If you don’t have time or space to host your own, you’re welcome to join our Book Oblivion Reading Group. We read literature and philosophy and have devoured over 100 books together.

If you’d like to follow my reading habits on Goodreads, you can click HERE.


I have read the following books within a community of readers. Each offers a dynamic discussion, opportunities for making creative drinks and meals, and a fairly easy or engaging reading experience for group members.

How to Start a Mind-Blowing Book Club

17 Responses

  1. I love the idea of book clubs! I’ve never been a part of any, but it just sounds like fun way to connect with people and stay in. Great tips for starting one! Now I just need to find some friends 🙂 (We just moved cross country…)

  2. These are some really great tips! Reading has always been a love of mine and it sounds so silly that I’ve never been a part of a book club and didn’t stop to think, you know, I should start my own 🙂 You’ve given me alot of think about.

    1. I’m so glad! I hope you can find the right people. It only takes a few, but if you can get up to 5 or 6 enthusiastic readers, it’ll be the perfect size (in my opinion 🙂 ).

  3. This is such perfect timing. I would love to be part of a book club but there aren’t many around that I know of so this is a great idea and great tips. It’s getting to the colder weather too so perfect curling up and reading a book weather!

  4. Do you have any tips for developing good questions to engage book conversation? I feel like we end up just chatting about life after a few minutes of talking about the book!

    1. My best tip on that front is to write them ahead of time. I usually have between 15-20 questions and we only ever get to half of them, but it helps drive the conversation. We end up talking about the book from various angles. When writing questions, start broad and talk about themes that emerge in the story or chapters for non-fiction. If it is non-fiction, you can analyze the organization of the argument. Next you can talk about the cultural moment. What does the work say about society and culture in the time it was written? Then try to narrow in on the different motivations of main characters. What do you know about their background? How do they make decisions? That kind of thing. And follow up questions can always relate to whether your book club members would make the same decision, etc. Depending on when the book was written will often dictate the answers. Before busting out the questions, I always go around and ask everyone simply if they liked it. Everyone has a chance to share their initial reactions and we can get an idea if it made anyone uncomfortable, etc. I hope that helps! It should at least get you started.

  5. We used to have a neighborhood book club, but everyone just go so busy. These are great tips though, I may try to start it up again!

  6. I’m always looking for a great book club… Now I can start my own! 🙂

  7. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a book club. I get involved with the characters and I would like to hear other people’s persceptive on it. Great points!

  8. Thank you for these tips! I’ve wanted to begin a book club for the longest time, and I’m finally doing it this year! I’ll definitely be checking your blog out more!