How to set up a Reading Group

Want to start a reading revolution? You’re Booked chatted to Harrogate Library to get their tips on the easy way to start your own reading group.

Getting started

There are no rules for setting up and running a reading group.  A reading group is simply a group of people who meet regularly to discuss books that they have all read, for enjoyment and relaxation.

Reading groups can be made up of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or if you want to set up a group you could put up a poster in libraries or bookshops etc. asking for members. The average group has 6 – 10 members, any more than 12 can mean that not everybody has the chance or confidence to put forward their opinions.

Groups meet in a variety of places, in members’ homes, cafes, pubs, rooms in local libraries or village/church halls (Many North Yorkshire libraries have meeting rooms for hire at reasonable rates).

Groups can meet as often as they wish, but need to make sure that all members have time to read the chosen book between meetings; most groups meet on a monthly basis.

Choosing books

Whether your group is going to buy the books it reads or borrow them from your local library, there are many sources of information to help you to choose your next book:

Reviews in magazines and newspapers

Book Club and Open Book on BBC Radio 4

The Book Show on Sky Arts

Book awards and prizes

The internet (check out You’re Booked Book of the Month!)

Discussion

You may want to choose a person to lead the discussion at the meetings; it could be a different person for each meeting. As a minimum the leader will start the conversation at the beginning of the meeting, make sure that everyone has had the opportunity to contribute and keep the conversation going if it flags. Some people like to prepare for the meeting by reading reviews, preparing notes, discussion points and questions. The most enjoyable meetings are usually when some people loved the book and others hated it!

How libraries can help

Using your local library and information centre can help you gain access to the titles you want to read as a group or provide advice to help you choose.

Reading groups can request up to 10 copies of a title free of charge, subject to availability.

For your benefit, titles should be requested a minimum of 2 months in advance of the meeting date.

Each reading group needs a contact person to be responsible for registering the group with the library, keeping the ticket and requesting, borrowing and returning books.

We would advise you to let your library have a proposed list of your chosen titles well in advance. If your group decides on its chosen titles for the year ahead it helps us to ensure that you have a constant supply of books.

We regret that your group will not be able to request titles which are on current promotion within the service until after the promotion ends, or until 3 months have elapsed following the announcement of a prize winner.  Examples could be Man Booker or Orange Prize nominees or winners, or titles in current major promotions.

You do not need any literary knowledge to join a reading group; you just need to enjoy reading.  Groups are informal, fun and free and have discussed all sorts of books from TV adaptations to contemporary fiction and classics.

To find your nearest library reading group, ask at your local library.