Book Club Dos and Don’ts

Book Club Dos and Don’ts

Book clubs are great fun and the perfect way to spend a weekday evening with friends. But they can also quickly get out of hand as competing voices argue over rules and regulations. So I’ve come up with this list of suggestions based on what works in my book club.

Do keep your numbers manageable

For one book club, this may be 5 people. For another group, it may be 25. Whatever it is, choose a number that works for your club and is manageable. A book club that is too large means some people will never get to host or never get a say in book selection. It can become a headache to make enough food for everyone and manage different personalities. But too small of a group, and you don’t get the interesting conversations that arise from diverse opinions. So choose a comfortable number and stick with it.

Don’t have one repeat host

Sometimes, one person takes the reign and becomes the de facto host of the group. While this may work for a while, it eventually becomes a burden if that person is also responsible for set-up, clean up, and/or buying drinks and snacks. If you must have someone who is the primary host, make sure everyone else chips in with labour or offers to bring food and drinks.

Do set out expectations at your first meeting

Your first meeting should be used to lay the ground rules for you club. Are guests allowed? Kids? How will you work out food arrangements? How will you choose which books to read (consensus? host’s choice?) Everyone should be providing an equal share, whether it is buying drinks, hosting, or doing behind-the-scenes planning and organization. If everyone is clear on expectations from the start, you will have a much easier time avoiding potential headaches down the road.

Do vary your book selection

Everyone has different interests. The only way to meet those interests is to have a variety of reading selections. You may choose to be a new release club only, or only read the classics. Most book clubs are a bit of a mix of everything, hopping between genres and themes and giving members a taste of a certain style they may not read of their own volition.

Don’t always choose epics

We all have lives outside of book club. While War & Peace may be an all-time classic, it isn’t practical to read a book of that length every month. Especially during busy seasons (like December), you may want to choose shorter material, like a children’s book or even a magazine article.

At the end of the day, no matter what you choose…keep it fun and remember to enjoy!


Born and raised in Ottawa, Ann is a writer and amateur wine expert. She loves trying out the latest pubs and restaurants around town, unless "The Bachelor" is on. Don't bug her when "The Bachelor" is on.

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