The vast majority of book clubs suck. Why? Some members complain about the choice of books, others never read the books no matter what they are, and still others never show up on time or at all. A lot of book clubs eventually turn into chatting clubs with tea parties.

Would you like to start a book club that isn’t one of those? Here are our tips.

Make it clear right from the start that all club members have to read the works without exception. If your book club has transformed into a chat club, you might consider creating a spin-off club for those who actually want to read. Don’t close the former club – keep it as a social group so people who want to come don’t feel guilty about not reading.

Pick Good Books!

Select books that people actually want to read (this is a logical follow-up on the first tip). Some books make for great reading when you’re on your own, but when it comes to having a group discussion on them, you see that you don’t have much to go on.

Make a Schedule

Your schedule should include how much time will be spent talking about each book. The whole meeting should take around 80 minutes – one hour to talk about the book and 20 minutes to just chat, socialize, and relax.

Choose your Members Carefully

Aim for a fixed number of participants and a diverse mix. The best discussions happen when people are different. Aim for diverse age ranges and backgrounds – men or women, married or single, with or without kids, teachers, professors, housewives, etc.

Everyone should have a chance to pick their own book. Ideally, this should be on a principle of rotation. Every member has a turn to choose a title and the book is discussed in depth before a new title is chosen.

Appoint a Leader

Someone should lead the book discussion. This person is put in charge to be prepared with background on the book and discussion questions.