4 Fast Ways to Help Your Book Club Start a New (and Exciting!) Chapter

Book clubs are booming. Is yours?

A survey by the online magazine BookBrowse found that participation in book clubs by Americans who identify as regular book readers reached 57 percent in 2015. An oft-cited stat has pegged the overall number of book-club members in the United States at 5 million.

With an inspired and broad base, there’s no reason for your book club to be nearing “The End.” Here are four things you can do ASAP to get your group turning pages.

1. Think spicy.

People join book clubs to talk about books as much as to read them. “Some books spark more intense conversations than others, and, of course,” says Abbie S. Fink, a public-relations executive in Arizona, and longtime book-club member, “there will always be a book or two throughout the year that we all love and equally as many that we all despise!”

2. Think local.

Having attendance issues? How about adding star power — like, perhaps, the author of the book that your club’s reading? To make this a quick-ish fix, select a book — a “bit controversial” one, perhaps — by a local author. While there’s nothing wrong with writing to Oprah Winfrey to see if she’ll stop by to chat about What I Know For Sure, you must be prepared to wait. Perhaps forever. The local is probably more accessible. If the author is a newcomer or an up-and-comer, all the better. She’ll likely be more eager for the opportunity.

3. Call in the experts.

The American Library Association‘s Book Club Central and the Great Books Foundation are among the sites that have basically written the book on book-club management. On them, you’ll find basic structuring tips (i.e., where to hold your meetings), a good read on how to be a book-club leader, lists of book suggestions and more. ReadingGroupGuides.com, another good source, is a repository of discussion topics and questions for a library’s worth of books.

4. Don’t forget: Call a meeting!

Did you know that, per the BookBrowse survey, nearly 70 percent of traditional book clubs discuss nine to 12 books a year, and meet in person “most” months? If your club’s not sitting down and cracking open books together regularly, then your club’s just gathering dust on the shelf.

No matter what shape your book club’s in, the key is to stick it out, and stick together. Reading a book in a group setting is its own reward. “You get the opportunity to discuss the details of a book, the characters, the settings, oftentimes walking away with a different view than what you originally thought,” Fink says.