Book Club Tips & Tricks

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Jun 25, 2024

Reading and discussing books is one of life’s simple pleasures.  Librarians facilitate book discussions at several Johnson County Library branch locations.  I’m one of the lucky librarians creating safe spaces for patrons to find intellectual fellowship and express their love of literature.  Do you dream of hosting your own book club but do not know how to get started?  As a veteran book discussion facilitator, I’m here to offer some tips and tricks to help you build your own successful book club.  I’ll cover how to select books for discussion, adult book club kits, how to find book discussion questions, Library Speakers Consortium through Library OnDemand (author videos), NoveList Book Club Resources, Olathe Public Library Book Club Resources, and free meeting spaces. 

Book Selection 

The most important component of a book club is in the name, books!  Picking books for your club to read can be challenging.  There are a lot of choices, and everyone has different tastes.  I select books from a variety of genres that feature characters of different ethnicities, cultures, nationalities, religions, lifestyles, sexual orientations, gender identifies, etc.  These will be the books that spark the most juicy and thought-provoking reflection and discussion.  Seeing the world through different eyes fosters empathy, understanding, and cultural appreciation.  If your book club members will be checking out your monthly selections from the library, check the catalog to see how many copies we own and if they are readily available or if there are holds.  If we do not have enough copies to supply your club’s demand, then you can recommend your members make other arrangements.  If there are a lot of holds on your chosen book(s), consider pushing that selection to later in the year to give your members a chance to get their holds and read the book. 

I use a variety of online resources to research books for discussion.  Here are my favorites:   

  1. Celebrity and Media book clubs— a great source for the most buzzed about books.  You are exposed to intriguing books you might not otherwise know about, and you feel like you are part of the cool reading crowd.  My go-to book clubs are Reese’s Book Club, Read With Jenna [Bush Hager], Good Morning America Book Club, Oprah’s Book Club, Jimmy Fallon Book Club, LeVar Burton’s Book Club, Big Library Read (Join the first global ebook club), and PBS Books Readers Club   
  2. Bestseller lists— The New York Times Best Sellers and Indie Bestsellers (USA) lists contain books that readers have bought and read the most.  You can access the books from those Bestseller lists that are available in our catalog.  Visit the Johnson County Library website, select “Explore,” under “Reading Ideas” select “Bestsellers.”
  3. Goodreads Choices Awards—Goodreads users vote on the best books each year.  This one is a popularity contest but still great for inspiration.  Categories for the awards are Best Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Romance, Romantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Debut Novel, Nonfiction, Memoir & Autobiography, History & Biography, and Humor.  
  4. Book Award Winners and Nominees— book award lists are invaluable.  My thinking is that if a jury of an author’s peers felt their novel(s) were deserving of special recognition, then they are worth reading and discussing.  There are a plethora of awards for a variety of genres and age groups.  I’ll name a few adult examples: the Pulitzer Prizes, Edgar Awards (mystery and crime), National Book Awards (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature), Bram Stoker Awards (horror), RITA Awards (romance), Spur Awards (western), Hugo Awards (Science Fiction), and the Booker Prize (fiction published in the UK and Ireland). You can access award winning books and Movies & TV from the United States and the United Kingdom that are available in our catalog.  Visit the Johnson County Library website, select “Explore,” under “Reading Ideas” select “Awards.”  Use this link to see a comprehensive list of book awards, courtesy by Goodreads:   
  5. LibraryReads— a favorite website used by librarians for book recommendations.  “LibraryReads is the monthly nationwide library staff picks list for adult fiction and non-fiction.  Our goal is to help connect readers to as many books as possible, while drawing upon the incredible power that public library staff has in helping to build word-of-mouth for new books, and the important role that libraries play in creating audiences for all kinds of authors.”  
  6. Patron recommendations—I help patrons at our patron service desks and one of the most popular questions is if we have a certain book.  If the requested book catches my interest, I keep it in my list of book discussion possibilities.  Keep a list of books your relatives, friends, and neighbors are excited about.      

Adult Book Club Kit 

I highly recommend checking out an adult book club kit from the library.   Book club kits are a hidden gem that provide access to a convenient set of books ready for borrowing.  Library staff gathered our treasure trove of official book club selections and created “Book Clubs in a Bag” for external book clubs eager to check out and discuss popular titles.  Each kit includes 13-15 copies of a book in a clear plastic backpack with handles and wheels.  Check the “Full details” option in the book club kit record to see the approximate number of copies.  They can be checked out for 30 days and can be renewed up 10 times if there are no holds. Search “adult book club kit” as a keyword in our online catalog for a full list.  These kits are also available to browse and check out at Central Resource Library.  Once you check them out, just distribute copies to your book club, collect all the copies after your discussion, and return the kit.  Simple!  They won’t fit through the library drive-thrus, so these kits have to be checked out inside. We offer a variety of book group kits, and more will be added. 

Book Discussion Questions: 

Need book discussion questions to get the fun conversations going?  First check the back of the book to see if book club questions are included.  You can also search for them online.  Just do a Google search for “[Insert Name of Book] book club questions” or “[Insert Name of Book] book discussion questions” for example search Google for “The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Book Club Questions.”  If you are lucky, you’ll find a book club kit provided by the publisher.  These book club kits are easily printable and usually have discussion questions, author interviews, recipes, fun facts, online resources, etc.  Check the author’s official website.  Sometimes these websites have a category with book club resources, including discussion questions.  If you do not find a book club kit or the author’s website does not have discussion questions, there a plenty of websites that offer book discussion questions.  You can read them to see if they fit your needs.  Two popular websites used by my fellow librarians are and  They offer book club questions and discussion guides for thousands of books.   

Library Speakers Consortium 

Wish you could book a nationally renowned author to speak at your book club?  The library offers a tantalizing alternative.  Library OnDemand, in partnership with the Library Speakers Consortium, now brings you live and archived Author Events for FREE.  You can register for upcoming speakers and play them live or watch past event recordings.  Examples of recorded authors include Xochitl Gonzalez (Olga Dies Dreaming and Anita de Monte Laughs Last), Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles and Circe), Christopher Paolini (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance), Victoria Aveyard (the Red Queen Series and the Realm Breakers Series), Amor Towles (The Rules of Civility, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Lincoln Highway), Sadeqa Johnson (The Yellow Wife and The House of Eve), Geraldine Brooks (Horse), and Pam Jenoff (The Orphan’s Tale and The Lost Girls of Paris).  To access these online author events, visit the Johnson County Library’s website, select “Events,” then “Library OnDemand," scroll down to “Authors & Writers,” then select “recorded Author Talks.”  There are so many excellent authors and books ideas to inspire future discussions.      

NoveList Book Club Resources 

NoveList is an excellent database where you can find reading recommendations from fiction and narrative nonfiction titles for all ages from your youngest readers to adults.  You can access book discussion guides, thematic book lists, and reading and book-oriented articles to supercharge your book club.  If you like a particular author or specific book and want to read something similar, NoveList features title and author read-alikes. I always share a list of read-alikes during my book discussions.  Scroll to the bottom of the main page to find the Book Club Resources page, which features links to discover new titles for your reading group, tips and resources for running a successful book club, and more. To find NoveList, go to the library’s website, select “Research,” then “Databases A-Z,” then “N,” and then “NoveList.”   


Book Club Resources (Olathe Public Library) Olathe Public Library provides links to several helpful book club resources.   

  • Book Movement—this site requires you to create a free account but you get a ranked list of the top book club picks from 35,000 book clubs, their accompanying reading guides and a private book club page to track your meetings and other group details. 
  • Book Club Cookbook—are your book club members also foodies?  This site pairs food with popular book club books and provides recipes. 
  • Reading Group Guides—find tips for book clubs, reviews and more.  


Meeting Spaces 

Need somewhere to hold your book club?  The Johnson County Library offers FREE meeting, conference, and study rooms for your book club to meet. We offer large meeting rooms, Conference Rooms, and Study Rooms. Please review the Meeting, Conference, and Study Room Guidelines so you know the rules and requirements for all the meeting spaces. To reserve a room for your book club, go to the library’s website, select “Using the Library,” then “Reserve a Room,” scroll down to the library that you want to meet at, then select your preferred meeting space.  Room capacity will be listed with each space.    

Reviewed by Karyn H
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