How to Start a Book Club

Reading can truly be a magical experience. It allows you to travel the world, travel backward and forward in time, and put yourself in the shoes of characters radically different from yourself. One of the joys of retirement is how much time you can spend on fun activities like reading — so why not gather together like-minded friends and form a book club? Whether you want to have serious and thoughtful discussions or simply rant and rave, a book club can be incredibly rewarding. Scroll down to learn how to start a book club.

A Basic Book Club Guide

Books Pt. 1: What Will You Read?

First of all, think about what sorts of books you’d like to read in your club. It can be helpful to decide this ahead of time so that potential members know what they’re signing up for. Perhaps you’ll read a little of everything, or perhaps you’ll have a more limited scope. The following ideas may give you some food for thought:

  • Read anything and everything
  • Read books from a particular fiction genre (mystery, romance, fantasy, horror, etc.)
  • Read books from a particular nonfiction genre (history, biography, self-help, etc.)
  • Read thought-provoking articles or essays
  • Read short stories
  • Read children’s books
  • Read seasonal books (a beach read in summer, a holiday book in December, etc.)
  • Read books set in different countries (and mark them on a map!)
  • Read books with movie adaptations (making it a joint book-and-movie club)
  • Read novels that incorporate food (and then eat the food during your meeting!)

Members: Who Will You Invite?

Once you know what you want to read (or even if you don’t), get the word out! Tell your friends, and consider asking them to tell their friends. In a senior living community full of active seniors with lots of free time, this will be easy. You could even ask the activities coordinator to help out. Make a list with the names and contact information of everyone interested.

P.S. Keep in mind that while a lively group is always fun, you technically only need two members to form a book club!

Meetings: When and Where Will You Meet?

You have the two most essential elements now — books to read and group members — but if you want to learn how to start a book club, you’ve gotta get out your calendar and nail down two critical things: a time and a place.

The frequency of book club meetings should depend on how quickly members are able to finish a book. You want to ensure that everyone has plenty of time to read the book before the meeting, so you may need to consider the length and complexity of your planned books. Many book clubs operate on a monthly schedule. If you wish to meet more frequently or have some tomes on the to-read list, consider setting different benchmarks. For example, could discuss the first half of the book in one meeting and the second half in the next.

When it comes to your meeting place, just make sure you choose a setting that is comfortable and accessible to everyone.

Books Pt. 2: What Specifically Will You Read?

You’ve already thought about the general types of books (or articles, essays, etc.) that you wish to read, but how will you choose the specific books? Generally, it’s best to use a method that incorporates the ideas of the group members. For example, you could ask members to propose ideas and then have everyone vote on them. Or, you could allow the members to take turns choosing books. Make sure that everyone has some say in the process and is content with the selection. Finally, consider the accessibility of your chosen books. Are there plenty of copies at your local library or bookstore? Is the book available in large print or as an audiobook?

Conversation: What Will You Talk About?

Even if you suspect the conversation will flow naturally, it’s always good to have some questions prepared to deepen the discussion. You might wish to choose a group leader, or ask different people to volunteer to lead the discussion each week. Depending on the text and the group, your questions might be thoughtful and scholarly, silly and fun, or both! The following are some basic discussion questions that work for many novels:

  • Did you like the book? How would you rate it on a scale of 1-10?
  • What were your favorite things about the book?
  • What were your least favorite things about the book?
  • Did you relate to any of the characters?
  • Would you recommend this book to anyone? If so, who?
  • What do you think will happen to the characters after the events of the book?
  • Do you think this book has a theme or message? If so, what is it?
  • Does this book remind you of any other books?
  • Did you struggle to read the book, or did it fly by?
  • What scene stuck with you the most?
  • What did you think of the writing style?
  • Did reading the book impact your mood? If yes, how so?
  • If you could ask the author anything, what would you ask?


A book club offers numerous benefits. It can help you socialize regularly, make new friends, connect with old friends in a new way, exercise your brain, boost your memory, and much more. And who knows, there might even be snacks involved! So, now that you know how to start a book club, are you ready to get started?

Happy reading!

Are you interested in retiring in Springfield, Missouri? At Springhouse Village, we know how important it is to enjoy your retirement in a lively and welcoming environment. We make it easy for our residents to participate actively in our community. Whether that means encouraging residents to join an exercise class or assisting them in starting a garden club, we strive to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the amenities and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today by sending us a message online or calling 417-708-3403.

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