6 Tips For Leading a Book Club

At this time last year, I was having mixed feelings about the book club I’d been in for a few years. On one hand, it was a group of close girlfriends who I enjoyed spending time with. For the most part, everyone read the book, and we had thoughtful discussions. On the other hand, we usually met after 7pm and everyone is asked to bring a food dish that somehow relates to the book. Members alternate hosting and choosing the book, so a couple times a year, I’d have a turn. 

While I loved spending quality time with those friends, I was getting burnt out on the obligation this club imposed on me. And I felt guilty about that. I’m a book blogger, for crying out loud, surely attending a book club monthly should be within my abilities?



The thing is, I don’t like leaving my house in the evening.  Early morning alone time is an important part of my self-care and creative process. I can’t have that without an early bedtime, and if I’m out past 8-9pm, I can’t get to bed on time. 

I was wallowing in hurt feelings because my friends weren’t able to make changes to accommodate my wants. This went on for months. 



Then my friend V finally got to me. She’d been telling me I should start my own book club for a while, since I’d been making recommendations to her that she loved. I thought I didn’t have time for it, and I already belonged to a club. It hit me suddenly one afternoon: I can do this on my own terms! I don’t need to have hurt feelings about how someone else runs her club, I can make my own. 

And so I did. I was super tentative at first, keeping the group small and trying to accommodate everyone’s schedules. That was a total bust. At the second meeting, someone suggested, “Maybe we can meet in the evenings and drink wine. ” NO! That’s exactly what I didn’t want!

It’s taking trial and error, and personal growth on my part, to create the club I have now, which is a varying group of folks who meet with me once a month at 10am on a Saturday to talk about a book we’ve read. 

So if you’re considering starting a book club, or even if you already have, here are some things I’ve learned over the past several months that may save you some time and distress! 

Ramona Mead While I Was Reading

6 Tips For Leading a Book Club

    1. Decide what level of obligation you want for yourself and your members.

When I started my own book club, I had two non-negotiables: a) We meet during the day  b) There would be minimal obligation for me and my members.

I don’t want to host people in my house, so we meet in a coffee shop. All you have to do is read the book. You don’t even have to finish the book. I ask everyone to give it their best shot, then show up for a discussion. That’s it.


book club meeting in a coffee shop



2. Decide how you’ll choose books.

I was doing a lot of work researching titles and creating surveys for my members to vote on. After many months of that, I found out my members don’t really care about voting! They trust my judgement and will read whatever I choose.  I should have thought to ask that up front, but based on my past experiences, I assumed everyone would want a say in what we read.

If your members do want to contribute book suggestions, Survey Monkey is a super easy to use. Or you can go old school, write the book titles on pieces of paper,  toss them in a bowl and have someone pick one for each meeting.

Either way, choose a process and try it for a while. This way you can make a swift pick each month without a lot of time and stress. 


tips for running a book club


3. Have discussion questions ready.

This seems like a no-brainer but I’ve showed up to many club meetings that didn’t have structure. I’ve found that with pre-printed questions, it’s easier to keep the discussion on track and not miss any characters or themes that deserve mention.



 3. Keep it low pressure. 

This relates back to number one, but it’s really hard for me. Ideally I want everyone in my book club to prioritize reading as highly as I do. And I want everyone to show up to every meeting, having finished the book. That’s not realistic, it’s not fair to my friends, and it scares people off. 

Instead, I’m learning to let go of what I thought a book club “should” look like.  Ultimately, I want people there who love to read and are eager for discussion. Some times that’s six people, sometimes it’s two. I have come to appreciate that these humans want to make the time for reading and trust my guidance.



   4. Everyone doesn’t have to love every book to consider the discussion a success.

When everyone agrees the book was wonderful, it can lead to boring discussion. However when I started my own club, I felt bad if someone didn’t like the book. My friends reassured me that disliking the book isn’t a total loss for them. We’ve found that having mixed opinions makes for more interesting discussion. And the one month we all loathed the book, we laughed a lot together, and still had a great time talking about why it sucked and how it motivated us in different ways.


   6. Create a safe, judgement free space.

Things are going to come up during our book club discussions that probably wouldn’t if the group of us were simply meeting for coffee. Not only does it make for better discussion when everyone can speak their truth, it creates connection. People can disagree and share conflicting opinions without being mean or holding grudges. 

Now, tell me about your book club. What works or doesn’t for you? 



  1. Candice Divine

    October 21, 2019 at 11:59 am

    I love all of this! and i LOL’d at ‘can we meet in the evenings and drink wine?“ NO!
    These are all great suggestions and boundaries, I imagine that there are plenty of book clubs out there that people can choose from if they don’t like how yours is set up. I also liked the writing workshop that you lead.

  2. Ramona Mead

    October 21, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you friend. I appreciate your support of my efforts and your unwavering acceptance of me as I am.

  3. Vicki

    February 18, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Same reason why I started my own bookclub…we break in Nov, Dec for the holiday and meet up again in Jan to figure out the day, date and time to meet up and how to pick books and who will host which month. My current bookclub is the second successful one I’ve started…had to move.

  4. Ramona Mead

    February 19, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    It’s nice to have a club you enjoy, isn’t it? thanks for sharing what’s worked for you.

  5. Laura Bailey

    June 17, 2020 at 4:45 am

    These are great tips. I love the advice of having pre-printed questions. One thing I find is that without the questions prepared, the discussion tends to start with “who loved it, who hated it, and why?” and sort of fizzle out from there. And I would love a daytime book club! Mine currently meets in the evening and usually keeps me up a couple hours past my bedtime.

  6. Ramona Mead

    June 17, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for your comment Laura, I’m glad you found the post helpful. My book club meets on Saturdays at 10am via Zoom and you are welcome to join us!

  7. Beverly

    July 8, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Our book club meets on Monday afternoons at 2:00 once a month. The person who hosts that meeting chooses the book or will take suggestions. We also offer wine too! I like to take notes and put it out for discussion. Others write down questions and we pull them out of a hat. We have a small group of nine and plan to keep it that way.

  8. Ramona Mead

    July 9, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for your comment Beverly, that sounds like a nice group!

  9. Brittany

    October 19, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    This was very helpful, my youth group we are now forming a book club. And I have been a part of a book club before, and decided to do some research. This was just what i needed. Thank you.

  10. Ramona Mead

    October 21, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Hi Brittany! I’m so glad you found my post helpful. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions about running a book club, I’m happy to help!

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  12. Lauren

    November 23, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Fun fun! I started a book club 4 years ago!!! I pick one person a month to host, the host picks the book as well! And you have to attend to have your turn next!! Works well for us!!

  13. Ledif

    March 1, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    wow! Thank you very much for this wonderful post that, although it was published in 2019, is still more relevant than then, especially when at the end you talk about creating safe and judgment-free spaces. That’s my goal. I am currently redesigning my book clubs. So far they have all been online because I am the mother of two little girls, we are also immigrants and we don’t have help to take care of them, so for now I am still online. The first began with the need of the group of mothers with whom I shared at the beginning of maternity, and little by little ideas were added until I had 4 clubs in operation at the same time. Now, I will only open two. For the first time there will be one historical novel and the other will be the female personal transformation. So I was looking for ideas, opinions, suggestions and that’s when I found you. Thank you very much. You helped me a lot. oh! I’m using google translator. I hope you can understand my message. Thanks again.

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