Etiquette Rules For The Modern Book Club



A book club can be whatever its members want it to be. If your group is happy to chat about the book for 15 minutes and then move on to dissecting recent events on Real Housewives of Atlanta, that’s completely fine. If your members actually want to read all of Jack Kerouac’s books and discuss them, at length, with no interruptions for gossip, wine or toilet breaks, that’s fine, too (although I will not be joining).

What’s important is transparency and a bit of etiquette. If you know what your book club expects of you then I have no doubt that, 20 years from now, you will all be in Italy on a gondola together à la Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda in Book Club: The Next Chapter (yes, I did rewatch both Book Club films as research for this article). With this in mind, here are my do’s and don’ts for the modern book club. And if you’re reluctant to take advice from a failed book club manager, scroll a little further to read tips from actual book club professionals.

"DO read the book. At least some of it. If it’s been a bat-shit crazy month, read as much as you can and still come along. But there will be spoilers."

"DON’T choose books that are more than 400 pages long unless you have majority approval from your members. This is book club, not Extension English."

"DO let everyone have a go at choosing the book. It can be helpful to allocate one person to captain each month who decides not only what you read but where the book club will be held."

"DO experiment. Short stories, books in translation, diverse authors and themes, books that aren’t by dead white men etc etc."

"DON’T steamroll the conversation. If you get the sense you’ve been talking for too long, you probably have."

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Read the full list of do’s and don’ts at PRIMER.


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