Why am I assuming that your book club is, in fact, off track? Because it is. Has been for a while. Let’s face it — you haven’t met in months (and you spent most of the last meeting talking about Oscar screeners.) As millennial women, we’re consistently drawn to the idea of the bookclub without fail. This will be great! I’ll read more challenging material! We’ll talk about real ideas! Yet almost everyone I know is a disgruntled or AWOL member of a literary group that has gone completely off the rails. As a member of a newly hatched book club myself (we’re still talking over names, but “The Most Exclusive Book Club in Austin” is a working title.) I thought it might be a good idea to do a little research on how to keep our club on track before our first meeting (which has been postponed indefinitely, btw. Not joking.) Read on for four simple tips I gathered from women who are actually in functioning book clubs, and get your club back on track fast:

featured image by the coveteur

Try meeting every 6 weeks instead of monthly.

“Monthly is just not enough time in between books,” said Caitlyn, who has been in a working book club for several years. “I realized that I was buying the book four days out from the meeting and cramming every time. When we switched to a 6 week interval, things flowed more naturally.”

image by darling

Choose your books wisely.

“You’ve got to be realistic,” said Ann, whose book club has been going strong for three years. “It’s not that you shouldn’t read War and Peace, it’s just that you might want to consider peppering in some novellas or short stories into the mix as well, just to keep people from feeling overwhelmed. Some of the best books we’ve read have been under 400 pages.”

image by lisa d engler

Designate a moderator to keep discussion on track. 

“I think it helps when a designated person leads the discussion,” says Camille (who’s book club has lasted years.) “When I’m hosting a meeting at my house, I always try and prepare a few questions about the book to get the conversation going and help people stay on topic.”

image by vogue

Set a timer for 20 minutes of “book only” discussion.

“Our group loves to hang out and talk about everything — not just the book,” said Andrea. “But some of us were getting frustrated by the fact that we weren’t talking about the books enough. I think it’s important for people to be on the same page about that (how much time you’re actually going to spend talking about the book when you get together.) So we decided to set a timer for 20 minutes, and after that it’s a conversational free for all!”

image by anthropologie

  1. 1
    Ryann Carter | February 21, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Thank you so much for this! I’m running a failing book club, and while I’ve set a monthly meeting, we haven’t met in a long time! I’ve heard of so many successful ones, hopefully with these tips we can get there too!

  2. 2
    Andrea D McAlister | February 21, 2018 at 9:06 am

    My dirty little secret is I listen to my book club book on Audible at work. I read the book when I am at home, but I can listen while a work and stay on schedule. 🙂

  3. 3
    Janet Fazio | February 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    We’ve been meeting every month for several years, but lately, very few have actually been reading the book. Love the idea of shorter books and longer periods of time between meeting. Life is so hectic, I hate for reading a book to seem like another “job” I have to do.

  4. 4
    Jess | February 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I run a book club that meets every other week, and we alternate between fiction and nonfiction. I actually like meeting more frequently (and keeping the books a bit shorter) because people like spending time with each other and are less likely to flake out. We have tons of meetings where several people haven’t finished the book, but it’s okay! We still have great discussions and a good time.


  5. 5
    Wendy | February 22, 2018 at 11:20 am

    We have a neighborhood bookclub with about 35 wonderful ladies, usually we get anywhere between 8 and 18 girls show up and we meet once a month. We sometimes skip reading a book and meet for activities like Escape Room, Cooking Classes, etc. especially in December when it’s really hectic. Since we all live in the same neighborhood we just walk to each other’s homes and it is very convenient. We also meet on a weeknight, weekends are for family activities but once in a while a host has done a Saturday brunch instead. I think the key is to keep it flexible, there are always enough girls that read the book and recap the story for the rest and sometimes we meet and watch the movie (if there is one) before the bookclub and we can discuss movie plot vs book.

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