Inspiration for Book Clubs

Thinking of joining a book club?
Want to improve the one you are in?
Maybe you want to start your own.
We can help.

I like to read, but I’m not sure I want to join a club.

Joining a book club lets you meet with people who share your interests, enjoy stimulating discussions, possibly some food or drink, and discover wonderful new books you may not have chosen for yourself. You are likely to hear points of view that are different from your own and come away with a greater understanding of the book, which can be a very rewarding experience. Start with one of the library’s professionally run book clubs, to see if it is for you.

I like being part of a club, but nobody reads the books.

Sometimes people like the idea of a book club, but they are really more interested in the socializing part of the experience than the literary part of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. See how everyone else feels and decide on the real purpose of getting together. You may want to make yours a social club and discuss books in another group.

In my club we don’t get far beyond, “I liked it.” How do we get a better discussion going?

A good discussion takes preparation. First, everyone should commit to finishing the book. (Not enjoying the book often gets people talking.) Second, one person should lead the discussion with questions prepared in advance. Additional information, such as professional reviews, a pertinent short video and an author biography will add depth and interest too. One of our favorite titles to help prepare for a discussion is: Talking About Books by Marcia Fineman.

My book club reads only current bestsellers that I don’t want to buy. What else can we read?

Choosing the book is the most important part of stimulating a successful discussion. For the best results, take time selecting books that are easily available, are of interest to the group, and have enough substance to sustain a discussion. A well-run group will have ground rules, such as what types of books to read (novels, mysteries or history, etc.) the length of the books, and whether members will buy them or check them out from the library. Many books and websites provide additional advice on how to select books and lists of titles to choose from. (See below.)

Tips from Falmouth Public Library

~ If members want to borrow library books, be sure to check if there are enough available copies in all of the CLAMS libraries for the whole group. Current bestsellers have long wait lists, so opt for a past bestseller instead.
~ Pre-read or scan the book before selecting it to be sure there is enough to discuss. If it is too light, your discussion will quickly veer off-topic.
~ A 300-page book is a good length for a one hour discussion.
~ Have a leader, ground rules and prepared questions to give your group structure.
~ Try books you wouldn’t ordinarily read.

Falmouth Public Library Book Clubs for Adults

We read one book a month and meet for one hour.* Join us!
Fact & Fiction: at the East Branch, second Tuesday of the month at 10:00 AM.
Fiction: at the Main Library, third Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM.
Narrative Nonfiction: at the Main Library, first Thursday of the month at 10:00 AM.
Poetry: at the Main Library, first Friday of the month 1:00 – 2:30 PM
*The poetry book discussion group meets for 1.5 hrs.

Further Reading


We have several books with lots of advice on how to lead a book club. They cover everything from starting a club from scratch to managing the irritations of a long-running one, with plenty of inspiration for getting everyone involved in a stimulating discussion. Many also have lists of recommended titles to read. Look in the Adult Collection room and the Reference room for call number 025.54. For additional books with reading lists, try:

American Best Sellers: a reader’s guide to popular fiction by Karen Hinckley REF 813.5409 HIN. A Good tool to find past bestsellers

Novels for Students REF 809.3 NOV: A reference series about novels. Entries cover plot summaries, characters, themes and more. It says “students,” but there are lots of great novels for everyone in this series.


Falmouth Public Library   Lists of current and past book club selections and blogs about our discussions are posted. The database, NoveList Plus, offers reading guides for selected titles.

Seattle Public Library Search for “Book Group How-tos” by typing the title in the search box and clicking “on this site”. This brief but helpful guide is a good place to start.

Reading Group Choices This website has it all! Advice for starting and running a group, selecting books, accompanying music, plot summaries, discussion questions and more. (We have the books in the reference room too.)

Reading Group Guides An online community for reading groups that offers advice on how to form and run a group, reading guides, what to do when there is no reading guide, ratings for books other groups are reading and more.