The first rule of book club: Don’t talk about book club. We’re just kidding, but there are definitely rules to keep in mind when trying to be a respectful and engaged book club member. Here, we’ve rounded up the dos and don’ts for having a successful book club meeting.
Do: Read the book (or at least attempt to)
We get it. Sometimes you don’t have time to read, or you dislike the book so much that you can’t bring yourself to finish. Either way, do try to read each meeting’s book so you can contribute to the discussion. If all else fails, follow our handy guide for what to do when you haven’t read your book club pick.
Don’t: Forget that everyone reads at their own pace
There will always be someone who reads the book in a day and someone who doesn’t finish it until the day of the meeting. If you’re a speed reader, don’t spoil the book for others. If you’re slow but steady, make sure you give yourself enough time to finish. Keep in mind that everyone is busy, and cut your fellow readers some slack when needed.
Do: Speak up
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, even if you disagree with the rest of your group. If everyone says the same thing, then there won’t be much in the way of interesting discussion. Let your unique voice be heard.
No one likes a conversation hog, and every book club has one. Everyone’s opinion matters, so it’s important to make sure everyone gets a chance to express themselves.
Do: Bring questions
Writing down your thoughts ahead of time can be a great way of spurring conversation when it lulls. Many publishers offer discussion guides on their websites, and if you want to talk about more general bookishness we have a guide for that too.
Don’t: Feel like you have to weigh in every time
If you don’t feel like you have something unique to say on a particular topic of conversation, it’s okay to just listen. No need to repeat what others have already said!
Do: Take your turn and be polite
Sometimes multiple people will want to contribute at the same time. If you end up in the awkward situation of talking at the same time, graciously let the other person go first and then add on to what they say.
Don’t: Force anyone to contribute
Putting a fellow book club member on the spot can make them feel uncomfortable. Keep the environment welcoming so everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts when they’re ready.
Do: Make a meeting agenda
When your group only has an hour or two to discuss a book, it’s helpful to create a list of what to discuss during that meeting. If you need to pick out your next read or talk about related books, sketch out in advance the time you’ll need for those topics as well as your book chat.
Don’t: Veer away from the book
It can be easy to get sidetracked and begin talking about other books, the latest episode of You, or real life. Staying on subject will keep your meeting focused and fun.