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Reading Groups - Tips on Starting a Book Group

Thinking about starting a book group?  The process can begin by simply asking some people you know to help you organize the first gathering.  Address the following questions early on to create a book group that is well run, interesting, and rewarding.

Group Composition:

  • What's the ideal size of the group?
  • If you need to recruit members, how will you extend invitations?
  • What requirements do you have for membership?

Reading Preferences:

  • What types of books will you read?
  • Will you focus your reading to specific topics or genres?

Selection Process:

  • How will you choose which books to read?
  • How far ahead will you plan?
  • How will members obtain copies of books?

Meeting Logistics:

  • Where will you meet?
  • How often?
  • Will you meet in the same location each time or rotate your meeting locations?
  • How long will meetings last?
  • Will refreshments be provided?
  • By whom?
  • What time will be designated specifically for socializing?

Facilitating Discussions:

  • How will each discussion be lead?
  • Will you designate a leader?
  • Who is responsible for providing author information and giving an introduction to the group's discussion?
  • What ground rules should be established?
  • Can members who haven't read the book attend?
  • Will guest speakers be invited?

We recommend the following resources:

  • The Book Group Book:  A Thoughtful Guide to Forming and Enjoying a Stimulating Book Discussion Group, second edition by Ellen Slezak.  Chicago Review Press, ISBN 1-55652-246-0, $12.00.
  • The Reading Group Handbook:  Everything You Need to Know from Choosing Members to Leading Discussions, revised edition by Rachel W. Jacobsohn. Hyperion, ISBN 0-7868-8324-3, $11.95.
  • The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading, by Shireen Dodson and Teresa Barker.  HarperCollins, ISBN 0-0609-5242-3, $12.95.
  • Family Sharing Groups: Start One in Your Neighborhood! , by Marjorie R. Simic and Eleanor C. MacFarlane.  Grayson Bernard Publishers, ISBN 1-8837-9011-5, $6.95.

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