For Book Clubs

This is a picture of a book with speech bubbles on the cover.

The library is a great resource for either finding a book club to join, or for help in running your own! Check our our Literary Events to find a book club near you. You don’t have to sign up for a book club to attend one - everyone is welcome! (Some people like to sit in just to get a feel for the group.) Be sure to check to see what title the group will discuss and you might even want to look at some past titles. If you need help placing a hold on a book be sure to contact us and we can help you.

If you want to run your own book club, here’s some tips to help you out:

Planning your meeting:

  • Timing: do you meet every month? Every other month? Day, evening, or weekend? Set your schedule that’s best for the most people, with the realization that not everyone will be able to make it.
  • Space: will you meet at the same location every time, or will you meet different places? Switching things up is excellent for keeping your book group fresh, but be sure to communicate well in advance. (If you need a location, you can book a conference room at one of our branches!)
  • Are you focusing on a particular genre (romance, historical fiction, biographies?) Or will you consider all genres? Does one person pick the title, or do you take turns with the responsibilities, or will the entire group vote on the selection? Our library book clubs tend to avoid recent bestsellers, as the hold lists for those titles are often very long, so if you’re concerned about availability, be sure to pick books that are at least a year old. Also be aware of different formats - some people need books in large print, and others might like their selections in audio or eBook formats. Check our catalog for availability.
  • If you’re looking for title suggestions, check out the books we’ve used in our past book club discussions. Or contact us and we can help you pick something out for your group!
  • Communication is key - make sure everyone knows the title of of the book well in advance and that everyone knows the dates and locations of your book club. Also, make sure everyone has the contact information for that month’s facilitator. Set up a Facebook group, or send regular emails, or a newsletter that everyone can refer to.
  • An important question: will there be food? Food can be a great way to break the ice and create an inviting atmosphere. If you choose to have food at your meeting, who will be in charge of providing it? Will you have a signup sheet? Go potluck style? Sometimes food can have a fun tie-in with your book. Make sure your venue supports it.

Book group tips:

  • Make time - but not too much - for latecomers, people getting drinks and snacks, and general socializing.
  • Be sure to welcome everyone and introduce newcomers..
  • Consider an icebreaker so that everyone has an opportunity to speak and feel comfortable.
  • Avoid “did you like the book?” sorts of questions that demand a yes/no answer. Instead, ask “what did you think of the book?” More open-ended questions tend to lead to deeper discussion.
  • Make sure the tone of the discussion is always respectful. Keep in mind that differences of opinion are not only welcome, but desired - if everyone feels the same way about the book, the discussion will likely be fairly boring.
  • The facilitator is partly responsible for making sure discussion flows and stays on topic. If people interrupt, or talk over each other, or monopolize time, your facilitator should step in and smooth things over, encouraging participants to hold their thoughts until it is their turn to speak. Look for opportunities to draw in the quieter folks who might be hanging back.
  • You might need some questions about the book to get the conversation going. You have several resources:
    • Check the publisher’s website for downloadable reading group guides.
    • The Johnson County Library’s own NoveList database, which you can access with your library card number and PIN, has book discussion guides for hundreds of titles
    • LitLovers.com and readinggroupguides.com are online communities with great resources
    • Your own book club members! You can ask them to submit questions that they would like to discuss ahead of time.

Be sure to have fun and enjoy your book club! If you need assistance, or need help selecting titles, or pretty much anything else, contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help you out.