How to set up a book group

Book group

Why start a book group?

Book groups are a great way of sharing a love of reading, and give you the chance to try different types of books. They can be hosted in-person or virtually and are a great way of getting together socially with friends or colleagues.

Where to start?

  • Recruit as many members as you can - if there are too many you can split into smaller groups and perhaps theme groups around different book genres.
  • Choose a date, time and place - give at least a month for members to read the book before the first meeting.
  • Pick the first book! You could ask members to vote from a few different options, or set up a schedule where a different member chooses a book each month. The books could be fiction or non-fiction and you can often find copies in your local library. You could you also share them between the group.

Suggested structure for the session

You might like to just let the discussion of the book flow naturally, but below are some specific ideas as to how you could structure the session.

Basic structure

  1. Catch up with members and enjoy a snack and a drink.
  2. Ask for everyone’s views on the book – did they like it or not? Why/why not?
  3. Discuss the following aspects of the book:
    • Plot: were there any twists? What were everyone’s views on these?
    • Themes: what were they? How were they shown in the book?
    • Characters: what was everyone’s thoughts? Did they like the protagonist? What about the antagonist? Were there any shocks?
    • Style of writing: how did the author write? Was it in a style you liked and found easy to follow?
    • Ending: was it a satisfying ending? Were there any plot details that weren’t wrapped up?
  1. Rate the book out of five, giving reasons for your rating.
  2. Allow time for any further discussion.
  3. Plan the next session and book choice.

Preparing questions beforehand

You might like to plan some questions to discuss in the session, particularly in the earlier stages of the group meeting. Below are some of the types of questions you could ask:

  • ‘Review’ questions: ‘Did you enjoy the book?’ or ‘Would you recommend it to someone else?’
  • Questions on the author: ‘What did you think of their writing style?’ or ‘What were their strengths as an author?’ ‘Have you read anything else by this author?’
  • Questions about the structure: ‘How is the book structured? E.g. chronological or shifting time-lines?’ or ‘Does it have a single narrator or is it told from multiple view-points?’ ‘How does the structure affect your experience of the book?’
  • Check the back of the book or online - you might find specific book group questions to put to the group.