To Book Club, or Not to Book Club


For some of us book lovers—this is the question, right? What are some of the pros (I almost typed prose) and cons of book clubs? Why should you want to join them? Well, as usual I don’t have all the answers because I’m not that smart but I have joined in a few book clubs and even run two (one I co-run) so I am at least a little knowledgeable about this particular subject. πŸ™‚

Even as someone who runs book clubs I have a love/hate relationship with them. Let’s first talk about the different kinds of book clubs. There are in-person book clubs and there are virtual book clubs. Either of these could be the kind that are privately run with a few regular participants or they might be super casual ‘join in when you can’ and ‘anyone is invited to show up whenever’ types. Some book clubs are themed around certain topics or genres of books. Really, when it comes to book clubs there is something for everyone’s level of comfort and reading tastes out there.

Of the two book clubs I’ve run, one is an in-person book club that met quarterly at my house for book discussion and tea. This was with my friends who are also readers (I’m super lucky in that). This was a group of anywhere from five to ten people, some of which showed up to every meeting and others who came and went. Eventually it became just five core members.

The other club that I run is online through reddit’s r/fantasy community – one of the many book clubs that is currently being hosted on r/fantasy (I think we have five different ones currently running each month?) This one is a romantic fantasy themed book club. We usually come up with the nominations each month ourselves, hold a poll to see which book wins, and then have a mid-way discussion and a final discussion post. Although sometimes we’re pressed for time and just pick a book and skip nominations/polling.Β  This club is more casual and participants come and go each month, the level of engagement can come and go depending on the book picked.

What is the biggest problem with book clubs? Ummm, getting people to actually read the book! I am super guilty of not even reading the book for the book clubs I RUN (my husband will never let me forget it either). A lot of people might say they’re joining in because, hey, it seems like a great idea at the time and maybe they’ve always meant to read that book anyway, and isn’t this fun? Isn’t joining things fun? Yay! Oh, wait, there’s work involved? I have to read this book and then think of things to say about it? Craaaaap. Welp, I’m out. I mean, let’s be honest, this is just how it goes sometimes. πŸ˜‰Β  Also, for mood readers, book clubs can be a bit iffy – sometimes you’re just not in the mood for that book when it comes time to read it!

But book clubs can also be rewarding. You can have an interesting discussion and you get the joy of participating in something, feeling like part of a group. Reading is generally pretty solitary, so joining a club is a way to make it feel like a group activity. You can also make friends who have the same hobby as you do! Sometimes a book is picked that you might normally have never thought about reading — it can be a great way to be introduced to new things or get taken out of our comfort zones once in a while.

Thinking about Running a Book Club?

  • Figure out what kind of book club you want to run
  • If it’s a private club with your friends see what kinds of books people are into reading and try to make it fun for everyone involved
  • Keep things organized – set reoccurring meeting times like once a month or x times a year or whatever you decide
  • Make there’s there’s an easy way for everyone to see what book has been selected and what dates the meeting or discussions will take place and where.
  • Think about whether or not you want to give people a choice in selecting books (nominating/polling)
  • Think about how accessible the book pick is for everyone – a lot of people rely on libraries because not everyone can afford a brand new hardback and audio books should be available for accessibility reasons as well
  • Check and see if there are any local bookstores that you can partner with — I know one of our local indies will give discounts if you register your book club through their website
  • Think about whether you want to give out discussion questions/prompts at the beginning so people know what to look out for or later or just have a casual discussion at the end
  • Know that not everyone is going to read the book
  • Or even show up to every meeting
  • So try not to be disappointed

Thinking About Joining a Book Club?

  • Look for clubs – a good place to check is book stores, they often host book club meetings. Also online! There are plenty of online clubs (psssst – check out r/fantasy!)
  • Think about the type of club you’re joining and why you’re interested in it
  • Are you willing to make the commitment the club requires?
  • If not maybe think about joining in a club that is more casual where you can come and go and there are less expectations
  • Read the book!
  • If you can’t read the book or attend the meeting and it’s a private club with friends then make sure you communicate it early on that you might have to miss that discussion
  • Have fun! This isn’t supposed to be actual work. If you don’t want to read the book then don’t join in. πŸ™‚
  • It’s probably a good idea to jot down some notes / thoughts along the way if you’re not given discussion questions up front
  • Please do join in the discussions! The whole point is to share your thoughts about the book with others that have read it. You don’t have to be super analytical–you can just talk about what you liked or didn’t like
  • Know that not every book is for every reader so you’ll probably have some hits and misses with the books selected and vice versa – you might love a book and someone else might hate it

I think that about sums it up. So, after reading all of this, are you ready to join in a book club? Or are you already in a book club?Β  Leave a note in the comments, I’d love to chat about it!


32 thoughts on “To Book Club, or Not to Book Club

  1. Marta the Monogamist Reader says:

    I think my biggest problem is that I often don’t like the book chosen by the majority. I tend to read only YA fantasy book, and I also have sooo many books on my TBR, I struggle to find time for book club “books”.
    However, I once went to a silent book club and I loved it. You just bring your own book and read in a coffee shop with strangers and then you exchange chitty chat and impressions. It was fun but… pandemic started… so…

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Oh, that makes sense–it’s also why I enjoy a more casual type book club where you can dip in and out every so often and only read the books you’re interested in.
      That’s an interesting style of book club! I like that everyone reads their own thing! Hopefully things will get back to ‘normal’ in a few more months. *crosses fingers*

  2. Tammy says:

    I love this post, Lisa. I was in a book club for quite a few years. They were all moms at my kids’ school, so all our kids were the same age, which was fun. There were 6 of us and we met once a month on the last Sunday of the month. We took turns choosing the book each month, so every six weeks I would get to choose the book. And then for book club night, the person who chose the book got to choose what restaurant we met at. I didn’t always like the book chosen, but I also discovered a lot of books I never would have read, so I loved our method.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Oh, that sounds really fun! In my irl book club we usually rotate who picks the book as well, although when we started out (and were bigger) we voted to be ‘fair’ but I like us rotating better. It’s fun to discover new books that you might have passed by otherwise!

  3. Realms of My Mind says:

    I love the idea of having a group of people to talk to about a book, but I’m always disuaded because I never want to feel “pressured” to read a book at a certain pace. I already walk that line sometimes with ARCs, but I always worry I’ll develop FOMO if life or mood prevents me from wanting to read as much as everyone else. So glad you have a couple of great groups!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, I totally get what you mean about the pressure and that’s one of the biggest issues I have with book clubs–I have realized that I am terrible at reading on a schedule LOL.
      FOMO is real! I get it all the time, especially since I’ve drastically cut down on ARCs. And some of the other mods of r/fantasy are doing an unofficial readalong of Valdemar in our discord server and I really wanted to join because FOMO but also I don’t have time and yeah. LOL
      Thanks! I’m happy with the two groups I have as we’re pretty casual with both. πŸ™‚

  4. Kaya @ afictionalbookworm says:

    this is a great post! i’ve participated a little in the dragons and tea book club, which i loved but there’s so much pressure to finish the book on time lol! i also don’t really buy books, and it can be hard to get the book from the library hehe. still, you make me want to give it a habit, because book clubs really are fun!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Accessiblity is a good point! A lot of the people that participate in my two clubs also get things from the library so that can be an issue.
      Book clubs can be a lot of fun! I love discovering new reads from them. πŸ™‚

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, I’m all about the casual book club style LOL. Great point about the people involved–I’m sure there can be toxic book clubs out there as well if there are bad personalities involved in them.

  5. R A I N says:

    Ahhhh!!!! You have definitely hit the nail with the mood reader thing, Lisa!! I am very VERY bad at reading things under a set deadline. I mean sure I do that for ARCs but hey I CAN CHOOSE WHICH ONES TO READ! I can’t do that in a book club. And you know, even when I actually LIKE the book that’s been chosen for the club reading, there’s no way to guarantee that I won’t end up loathing the very idea of opening it nearer the deadline! 🀣🀣🀣🀣

    This was a VERY VERY thorough and informative post! LOVED IT SO MUCH, Lisa!! 😍😍😍😍❀️❀️❀️

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I’m even bad at it with ARCs tbh which is why I am super picky about what I choose to request/accept for review. Even books I’m excited for get put off when I have to read them on a deadline sometimes LOL so yeah, I get it haha.
      Thanks! <3<3<3

  6. Zezee says:

    I’ve participated in some virtual book clubs but have always wanted to join an in-person one. I like book clubs although I am a mood reader and don’t often read the books lol. I like a really good discussion though.

  7. Sammie @ The Bookwyrm's Den says:

    You bring up such good points in this! I love the idea of book clubs, but I really struggle with the whole reading the dang book sometimes. I’m part of a general book club through my library, but unfortunately, the books we tend to read are usually contemporary or Christian fiction, both of which bore me to death, so more often than not, I don’t read them. What I get out of it, though, or did when we were actually meeting up, is socialization and just being able to hang out and chat about things with an amazing group of women.

    I love your tips, for both readers and hosts!

  8. @lynnsbooks says:

    What a fantastic post with so much great advice.
    I’ve joined a couple of book clubs before now, one reason was to try and make me read books outside my comfort zone a little but it didn’t quite work out because I’d usually already read the books chosen and I’m not so much up for a reread every month.
    The other thing I did find is that after a very small discussion about the book we all descended into general chatter!! which is very nice of course – kind of reminds me of the Southern Book Club’s guide to Vampire slaying (minus the vampires).
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Hah! We also descend into general chatter after a short discussion in my IRL bookclub–this drives my husband crazy because he does so much work preparing for the discussion. Even though I’m a much bigger reader he is so much more dedicated to the book club haha. πŸ™‚

  9. librarycryptid says:

    I’ve been keeping an eye on the HEA book club reads so I can fill out that bingo square… I keep hoping for an LGBTQ read since I feel like I’d be more interested in it, and I’m usually not a huge fan of fantasy.

    Recently I joined a discord book club through r/horrorlit and I’m loving it! We have a book every week but it’s casual so I often skip a week (although I read every July book!). It really boosts my reading and the discussions are great.

    • librarycryptid says:

      ****not usually a huge fan of romance lmao. It’d sure be something if I didn’t like fantasy but was trying to fill out the r/fantasy bingo square!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Our next pick will probably be LGBTQ, we haven’t proposed books yet but we have discussed that much. πŸ™‚

      Glad you found a discord you like! I’m on a few servers but I sometimes find it hard to keep up with conversations on some of the bigger servers haha. I guess I like cozy groups. πŸ™‚

  10. Eleanor J. says:

    You brought up a lot of great points! I guess it’s important that the book club is going to discuss a book with a premise that appeals to everybody. Book clubs can be such a fun way to have a whole bunch of readers just giddily talking about various moments or scenes from the book. I don’t think I’ve exactly been a part of a book club yet, but the various book blogs in the blogosphere seem to cover that!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah! It’s hard to please everyone in a group though, especially the bigger they get, which is why things can get kind of unweildy at times. I do like a lively discussion though and they’re definitely fun for that!
      Blogs are great for checking out various opinions on books for sure. πŸ™‚

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