Book Group Starter Kit

Here are some key questions to ask when laying the foundation for your book group:

How many people should be in our group? 8-12 usually works best for conversation. Some groups like to have more members, so they always have a quorum.

How often should we meet? Once a month is most common, but six weeks works better for busy folks, for long books – or if a lot of your members will be borrowing the book from the same library.

 Where should we meet? Find a relatively central location. You can always meet at someone’s home or another coffee shop (though make sure the coffee shop is book-club friendly, like Open Book Espresso @ Riverwalk Books; you don’t want them rushing you out).

 When should we meet? Pick a standard time and day. These can obviously change for holidays or conflicts.

 What kind of books are we going to read? Again, this is just a guideline, but decide on fiction or non-fiction; if fiction, then bestsellers or classics or chick lit or historical fiction, etc.; if non-fiction, then memoirs or history or architecture, etc.; paperback or hardcover; new releases or older books -- or a mix and match of all of the above.

How do we pick our books? Some groups have a committee or just one book maven who chooses all the books, and they usually chose for the whole year at once. Others are more democratic, with each member offering up ideas and the group discussing. A system that works well is designating one person to be the “host” (even if it’s not at her home). That person can either just pick the book or come to the next meeting with a few options and the group can come to a consensus. Then she should prepare some discussion questions for the next meeting (see below) and arrange the meeting site. And pick the “volunteer” host for the next meeting right then.

How do we find books? Consider Riverwalk Books your first resource. Browse through the store. Ask our booksellers. Email us at Then there are a million and one other resources from Oprah to the new website. Read book reviews – from the New York Times to Us Weekly. Check out book club websites. Two other particularly good sites are and which both include lists of upcoming books and reviews and even contests. We also keep reading group recommendation brochures from Indiebound and individual publishers at the Riverwalk Books.

How do we find reading group guides? These days, most paperbacks have discussion questions. Or you can go to the publisher’s or author’s website (often printed on the book cover). And, of course, Riverwalk Books also posts discussion questions on our website,, and we have the hard-copy version of still others. Don’t just stick to these questions, but they are a good way to start the conversation – and then just let it flow.

What are the secrets to a successful book group? Have fun. There are no right or wrong answers. This isn’t school. Reading the book shouldn’t feel like homework. This is all about laughing, learning, engaging in thoughtful conversation, expanding your world. Still, that said, a well-planned meeting is the key. Choose your book and/or meeting date around an event -- like an author appearance at Riverwalk Books or a movie. Or a theme – if you read Eat, Pray, Love, then you eat Italian food or go to yoga.