Starting or Joining a Reading Group
Reading groups offer book lovers a wonderful opportunity to meet new people who share their interests, enjoy stimulating discussion about interesting topics, and best of all, read great books! Whether your group is an intimate one organized with friends or a large one run by professionals, the goal is the same: to meet other readers, share theories and opinions, develop a more enriched understanding of the book, and have fun.
Not sure how to get started? Read on for information about how to join a group or how to start one of your own. Then, when you’re ready to take the next steps, browse our ideas on how to choose the best books and how to run a successful group meeting!
Interested in joining a group or organizing one of your own? Not quite sure how to do it? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- TRIAL RUNS: Not sure that a book club is for you? One way to find out is to attend a meeting of an existing group and see what it’s like. Most local bookstores and libraries offer open groups that meet on-site on a regular basis and welcome walk-ins and new members. Visit their websites or ask at the information desk about existing groups—their themes, meeting times, and membership policies. Most likely you’ll find at least one that interests you, and there will be no pressure to join if you find it’s not what you are looking for. Or join a group online! Many online bookstores and book review sites host book discussions, often including live chats with authors. Here are a few sites to get you started:
- JOINING A GROUP: You may find that you are interested in joining a group, but do not want to start one of your own. Some places to start include your local bookstore or library, or through a simple search online. Bookstores and libraries often sponsor a variety of different groups which are open to the public, providing the location—and often the leaders—for group meetings. Some bookstores even offer discounts on bulk purchases for reading groups that register with their store, while libraries take advantage of the inter-library loan system to ensure that club members have access to book club selections. If neither of these options appeal to you, check their bulletin boards for private groups looking for new members, check listings online, or contact your local church, synagogue, alumni club, or professional association. Even if these organizations don’t have groups already, they’ll likely be able to put you in contact with other interested readers.
- STARTING A GROUP OF YOUR OWN: It’s easier than you think! All you really need are a few avid readers and a good book. There are no set rules. Reading groups can be single sex or coed and vary in size. You may find that smaller groups (4-12 members) tend to provide the liveliest discussion and allow each group member to participate. Quite often groups are formed by friends—try calling a few of yours and suggesting that you all read the same book. If that doesn’t work, post a notice at work, in your church, or synagogue; place an ad in the paper, on Craigslist, or on other social networking sites; or contact the local branch of your college alumni club or professional organization. You might be surprised at the outcome. Then meet informally at a local coffee shop, restaurant, or in members’ homes to discuss.