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How to Start a Book Club

Whether you’re an avid bookworm or a devil-may-care reader, you might enjoy joining a book club. Some book clubs are all about the books; others provide a great excuse for friends to get together and chat, with a small dose of reading on the side. No matter which form you prefer, a book club will provide a great opportunity to socialize and discuss interesting books. Plus, it will give you an incentive to read more often. If your community doesn’t already have a book club, why not launch one yourself? Use the tips below to learn how to start a book club.

How to Start a Book Club in Your Community

Learning how to start a book club doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, starting a club in a retirement community is often easier than starting one in another setting, because you don’t have to worry about finding a place to gather or figuring out transportation. To get started, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you hope to get out of this book club?
  • What types of books would you like to focus on?
  • How will you choose the books?
  • Who will lead the club? Will you rotate the responsibility?
  • How long should each meeting be?
  • How frequently will you hold meetings?
  • Will you serve refreshments at your meetings?
  • How many people can your book club accommodate?
  • Do you need to establish any ground rules?

Remember that every book club is different. Focus on setting priorities that make sense for your community and needs. Just because you want to learn how to start a book club, that doesn’t mean your club must work in the same way as other book clubs you’ve heard about. For example, your book club could function in one of the following unique ways:

  • Book Recommendations: Instead of requiring all members to read the same book each month, everyone could read something different and then explain it and encourage/discourage other members from reading it at the next meeting. This way, everyone will go home with a list of recommended books to read.
  • Themed Clubs: If you find a group of like-minded members, you could create a themed book club. For example, you could read only historical fiction or mysteries (and discuss who guessed the guilty party early). Or, you could create a worldly book club and read books by authors of different cultures.
  • Food and Fiction: Instead of serving simple refreshments at your meetings, why not eat full-on meals that correspond with the books you read? You could read great novels involving food (such as Like Water for Chocolate, The Belly of Paris, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) or simply eat meals that match the culture of the author.
  • Food and Film: If your book club’s members are cinephiles as well as bookworms, you could research books that will soon be adapted for the big screen. Then, you could read the book, see the movie, and discuss how the two compare.

When you’ve formed a general plan and decided on a date for the first meeting, you can start recruiting members. Talk to your friends first, of course, and tell them to spread the word. Then, discuss your plan with your community’s recreation director so that they can add it to their calendar of upcoming events. You should also post flyers in public spaces, providing information about your first meeting (date, time, place) and your contact information (name, phone number, and/or e-mail address) so that potential numbers know how to contact you with their questions.

Getting Your Book Club Up and Running

As potential members express interest in your book club and inquire about the details, tell them when and where your club will meet for the first time. Then, on the day of the meeting, explain how you’re hoping the book club will work, answering the questions listed above. Announce the first book the club will read and set a date for the next book club meeting, giving members plenty of time to read the aforementioned book. Allow your members to ask any questions they have, focusing on the book selection process, hosting responsibilities, and the ground rules for your discussions.

To ensure that all members enjoy the books you read as a group, we encourage you to either (1) let a different member pick the upcoming book each month or (2) let all members vote on the book you will read. This is especially important if your group includes a diverse assortment of members.

Once you’ve decided on a book, tell your members how they can get a hold of the book. For example, you may wish to provide your members with a list of local libraries and bookstores (including used bookstores) as well as websites that sell books. In addition, remind your members that they can use an audiobook to read the material. Many people prefer this method, as it allows them to “read” whilst walking, sewing, gardening, etc.

Finally, consider hanging monthly meeting announcements on a public bulletin board in your retirement community, so that current and prospective members have an easy way to know when the group will next meet, where the group will meet, and the book you will discuss. You may also want to include contact information in case anyone has a question.


Now that you know how to start a book club and you’ve established all your basic guidelines, you simply need to get started! Grab some friends, head to the bookstore, and make a plan.

Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? If so, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place, located in Bartlett, Tennessee. We would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore the community, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. For more information, please call 901-854-6590. We look forward to meeting you!

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