Building Bonds Through Books: Your Ultimate Guide to Starting a Successful Book Club

A group of young adults engaging in a lively book club discussion in a cozy room, with one reading aloud and others listening.

At Once Upon a Book Club, we love bringing books to life, one book box at a time. Everything bookish brings us joy, especially book clubs. That’s like having your own special bookish inner circle, and we believe there’s nothing better than being surrounded by a bunch of special people who share your love of all things literary.

Book clubs all over the world have been responsible for rekindling that all-important love of reading and building lifelong friendships. Books are simply the lifeblood of learning, and we love discovering new places, meeting new people, and experiencing emotions at the mere flick of a page. Plus, we have a whole lot of fun doing so.

So, grab a coffee or a glass of wine (and don’t forget about the snacks) as we share our tips on starting a successful book club.

Three women laugh and share stories over tea and books, enjoying a casual book club meeting.

The Joy of Shared Reading: Exploring the Benefits of Book Clubs

When we talk about shared reading, we’re not talking about sitting together and taking turns reading out loud. We’re talking about sharing the experience of the book. Happiness is sharing our thoughts and views on our latest find over our second love, food and drinks. Personally, if you add a slice of lemon and an umbrella to a glass of water, I am happy. Add a slice of chocolate cake, and I am simply ecstatic!

But let’s get back to the important stuff like books. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks, and I secretly love it when someone else didn’t see “that” coming. When you’re part of a book club, you gain much more than you ever give. Those lively discussions have often provided perspectives and insights I hadn’t thought of. Bonding over books is what makes the world go around!

When you read on your own, you can get stuck on a specific genre or fall madly in love with a particular author; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But a big advantage of being part of a book club is being exposed to new things. Who knows, it may be time to try a romantasy like  The West Wind by Alexandria Warwick or a thriller like  The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James.

That’s why we appreciate the Once Upon a Book Club  monthly subscriptions so much—we get to try new genres and authors. We’re always on the lookout for the latest novel, and to be honest, I have read books by some wonderful authors I had never heard of and probably wouldn’t have discovered.

Finding Your Circle: Tips on Assembling Your Book Club

Now that we’ve got your attention and, hopefully, you’re raring to go, it’s time to find your fellow bookworms and start that perfect inner book lovers circle. It is definitely worthwhile taking some time to think about what genres appeal to you. Mystery? Romance? Fantasy? Or perhaps you’re open to trying new genres. Picking a specific genre can be quite limiting and being open to a wide range of genres tends to be a lot more fun!

We are so grateful for social media platforms, as they are one of the easiest ways to reach like-minded people. Take our Facebook community for example, it's always alive with conversation! Trust us; you will be amazed at how many fellow book lovers are out there just waiting to join you. Which brings us to the next book club decision—how many members should you have? It’s like the Goldilocks scenario; it has to be just right. Big enough for lively conversations but small enough so that everyone can contribute. We have found that anywhere between 5 and 12 members works well.

A book club is like a team—you don’t want everyone to be the same. Each member brings a different perspective, comes up with new ideas, and has different strengths, and that’s what makes a successful book club. Diversity is the spice of life and book clubs!

Lastly, you need to find out what each member hopes to get out of belonging to your book club and what their expectations are. Set these upfront, as there is nothing worse than a disappointed book club. Make sure you are all aligned from the beginning!

A hand selecting a book from a shelf filled with colorful titles in a cozy library setting.

Choosing the Right Books: Strategies for Selecting Engaging

Choosing the right book can be daunting, almost as daunting as choosing the right wine. But trial and error are often the only way to go. You’re never going to get it right all of the time. Having said that, even when I have read books I didn’t fall madly in love with, I have always gotten something out of them!

A great way to get everyone on board is to let a different member choose the books each month. That way, you are guaranteed to be exposed to new genres and authors. I love hearing about how people choose books. Some of our book club members spend hours researching and carefully selecting their books for the month. Others get super excited when their favorite author releases a new book. On the other hand, I am often drawn to book covers (don’t tell anyone as I pretend it is a completely intellectual decision—okay, I am not fooling anyone!)

But don’t stress if choosing the right books sounds like hard work—we’ve got you covered with our monthly subscription book boxes. We go out of our way to scour the world for the latest novels and the ultimate bookish surprises. Yes, we do the hard work, so you don’t have to! Book clubs just got a whole lot easier—all you need to worry about are the snacks and those drinks with umbrellas!

Fostering Engaging Discussions: How to Keep Conversations Lively and Inclusive

If you’re starting a book club with a bunch of people you don’t know, getting the conversations started initially can be challenging. Don’t stress as you all get to know each other, the conversation will flow. But as my Mom says, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” So, having a backup plan is always a great idea. Prepare some questions ahead of time to get the ball rolling.

As you get to know each member better, you will soon notice who the shy ones are and find ways to ensure they’re included and feel comfortable contributing. Asking questions like, “Who was your favorite character?” or, “Which part caught you by surprise?” are not intimidating and easy to answer. Your aim is to get and keep the conversation flowing!

The first book club meeting needs to set the standard and be one you remember for ages. Why not join us on our quest to bring books to life and add your own bit of spice? A book set in Italy deserves some Italian snacks—we’re thinking bruschetta, focaccia, pizza, and a little bit of vino!

A woman in a white sweater closes her eyes and smiles with joy, her fists raised in a celebratory gesture against a pink background.

Sustaining the Momentum: Keeping Your Book Club Active and Exciting

There is nothing quite as exciting as your first book club meeting, and sustaining that initial excitement is key. We can’t wait for our monthly get-togethers and definitely recommend keeping a regular schedule!

There are so many wonderful ways to sustain the momentum. Here are a few of our favorites:

Switching up the venue is always fun. Taking turns to host is a great way of getting to know each other better and we love getting everything ready in anticipation of our next meeting. Some book clubs are traveling ones—what a fabulous idea to take your book club meetings to new coffee shops!

Once Upon a Book Club's monthly book club meeting showing the team at a restaurant

We have our own special OUABC team book club and we meet every month at different local restaurants around town for lunch to discuss our latest book. These monthly get-togethers are a highlight and we love the change of scenery and the lively conversations that ensue.

Another way to add that extra bit of pizzazz is to have themed meetings. The options are endless—Regency-styled romantic tea parties accompanied by heart-shaped cakes are a great one for February, or what about horrors or thrillers during Halloween accompanied by the obligatory pumpkin pie? (I must make a note to remember this one!)

It doesn’t always have to be about reading. Up the pace and have a book club movie night. Book-to-film adaptations are always such fun as we love discussing how different the characters or places look from how we imagined or what they have left out or changed.

Conclusion: Bringing It All Together

We can’t wait to hear about all the new book clubs, so please share them with us and don’t forget to come up with a terrific name!

Let’s build awesome book communities everywhere and create bookworm sanctuaries filled with fun, learning, and shared experiences. There is nothing holding you back from rushing out there and getting started today. Here’s to a literary adventure filled with new genres, authors and fabulous fun.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.