How to Start a Book Club


I’m going to be honest: I’ve always been just a little bit anti-book club. The main reason? It just feels like a lot of pressure, plus I worry that the books that are on my reading list will get sidelined by insurmountable 500-page novels that I’ll never have time to get all the way through. But recently, I changed my mind.

I wrote an article at work about how to start a book club that really is fun. It taught me that—with the right parameters—it is possible to assemble a book club that is actually zero pressure and fair. Here’s what I learned:

1. Choose members based on geographic convenience. This is especially important in a city as big as New York. The members of my book group all live in my neighborhood—aka there’s little to no subway commute required. This makes it harder to cancel and also results in the best feeling ever: Walking home at the end of the night.

2. Put limitations on the books you select. Right off the bat, our group decided we would only read books by women. The books also had to be 350 pages or less. Last requirement: It has to be a new release (as in, it came out in the last few months). This helps keep things fresh, but it also limits the chances that anyone in the group will be stuck reading something that’s out-of-date or a serious time-suck. (Lengthier books are fine, but just more challenging when there’s a time table for reading, you know?)

3. Make book selection democratic. It’s as simple as setting up an anonymous Survey Monkey that group members can fill out with their book pick for the next read. Majority rules. Done and done.

Are you in a book club? What are your tactics for keeping things fun and easy-going? Oh—for the record—we’re two sessions in and we’ve already read Today Will Be Different and Harmony. (Both great!)

(Image via CBS)