Successful Book Clubs Share Their Top Tips

Are you in a book club?

If so, you may be interested to know that tucked away in BookBrowse's book club section are 14 years' worth of interviews with a wide range of book groups.

Each one has something to inspire, and are full of interesting and useful information – such as the books that the groups have most enjoyed discussing (and the ones they didn't) and plenty of ideas that you can borrow to freshen up your own group.

Some provide a complete roadmap to starting a similar group or program, such as the interview with Adrienna Turner, founder of the C Facility Book Club at the Sacramento State Prison; or our latest interview with Marianne Paterniti, Book Groups Coordinator at the Darien Library in Connecticut which runs an impressive program of in-house book group programs and actively supports over 100 groups in their community.

You can browse the full archive or start with one of these recent interviews:

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Discussing Books on Zoom: The Pros & Cons

book clubs meeting virtually, discussion qualityIn the previous post about meeting virtually, we talked about how switching to a virtual format has changed some key factors for book clubs. Many respondents to our "Book Clubs in Lockdown" survey focused on the positive aspects of these changes, such as welcoming back members who had moved away and could now take part in meetings over Zoom. Others missed getting together in person and bonding over group meals and drinks.

But first and foremost, book clubs meet to discuss books. So, how are these book discussions actually taking shape when a group is meeting virtually?

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Zoom Book Club Meetings: The Pros & Cons

book clubs meeting virtually, the pros and consIn recent articles, we've been talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought big changes to the way book clubs run their discussions, especially in terms of where and how meetings have been taking place. Before the pandemic, all but 2% of respondents to our October 2020 survey, "Book Clubs in Lockdown," said their book group (or their primary group if they belonged to more than one) had met in person; whereas at the time of the survey, two-thirds of those in groups that were currently meeting were getting together virtually, and almost all of these were meeting on Zoom.

While virtual meetings have their share of drawbacks, many of the respondents pointed out benefits:


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John Shors Literary Travel

John ShorsAs a book lover, the chances are that you enjoy traveling to places you've never been through books; and prior to the pandemic, you probably enjoyed traveling in person, which is why I am excited to tell you about John Shors Literary Tours.

You may well recognize John's name from his novels, many of which have been featured on BookBrowse and are bestsellers in the US and overseas (he's been translated into nearly thirty languages). Starting with Beneath a Marble Sky, which transports readers to 17th century Hindustan and the building of the Taj Mahal, to last year's My Midnight Sun (set in modern day Nepal), John brings his settings to vivid life by drawing upon many years of travel and research.

Now, John has combined his love of writing and travel to personally lead small groups (average size is just 10 people with two guides) on tours to the parts of the world he knows intimately. Among the tours coming up are a Jane Austen Tour to England this September, followed by India in October. Then in April 2022 he'll be leading separate tours to Bhutan and Japan.

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Book Clubs and the Pandemic: The Good and the Not So Good

book club meetings during the pandemic - the good and the not so goodAs we've been discussing in recent posts, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have required book clubs to change course and do things differently. From the responses to our October 2020 survey, "Book Clubs in Lockdown," the most frequently reported change has been a switch from in-person meetings to virtual. In total, two-thirds of book clubs that were meeting at the time of the survey were doing so virtually, and of these all but a few percent were using Zoom.

We'll be looking more closely at how those virtual meetings work and what book clubs have to say about them in a future article. Here we look at some of the good and not so good aspects of the book club experience during the pandemic, irrespective of whether groups are meeting virtually or in person.


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Book Clubs During the Pandemic: Fostering Connections

How is your book club doing these days? If you're like most of the respondents to our October 2020 survey, your group has gone through some changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you're meeting on Zoom or gathering in person with social distancing and masking protocols, your book club meetings probably don't look quite like they used to. But not all change is bad! As we discovered in our research, satisfaction among book club participants is still high, despite the curveballs this pandemic has thrown us.

We surveyed more than 3,000 people who described themselves as currently in a book club. Of these, three-quarters were still meeting regularly with their book group, either virtually or in person; the remaining quarter mostly had not met since the start of the pandemic. The rest of this blog focuses on those who had been meeting regularly during 2020.

A full two-thirds of book clubs were meeting virtually at the time of the survey, almost all on Zoom; a further 17% were meeting outdoors; and the remainder were mostly meeting in someone's home or in a communal space (with all but 3% taking precautions). More about meeting locations in our earlier post, "Book Clubs During COVID: When Will We Meet Again?"

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