Book discussion club

Book discussion club

A book discussion club is a group of people who meet to discuss a book or books that they have read and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. It is more often called simply a book club, a term that is also used to describe a book sales club, which can cause confusion. Other frequently used terms to describe a book discussion club include reading group, book group, and book discussion group. Book discussion clubs may meet in private homes, libraries, bookstores, online forums, pubs, and in cafes or restaurants over meals or drinks.

Single-title clubs

A single-title club is one in which people discuss a particular title that every person in the group has read at the same time. Clearly, the club must somehow decide ahead of time what that title will be. Most often, that title will be a new release, and it is expected that each member buy a personal copy. If it is a book discussion club that meets at a library, the title may be a new release or an older title. If they choose, each member may borrow a copy of the book from the library.

One of the problems with these clubs is that some members regard them as opportunities for social contact and conversation veering off onto a wide variety of non-literary topics, while others hope to engage in serious literary analysis focussed on the book in question and related works. Still others suggest a book not because they are interested in it from a literary point-of-view but because they think it will offer them an opportunity to make points of personal interest to them. Different expectations and education/skill levels may lead to conflicts and disappointments in clubs of this kind.

Multi-title clubs

The characteristics of a multi-title club are such that each member may be reading different titles from each other at any given time. What distinguishes this from any group of unrelated people reading different things from each other is that each title is expected to be read by the next member in a serial fashion.

Open loans

Open loans imply that the books in question are free to be loaned among the population with the expectation of getting them back eventually. Instead of one member deciding what everyone will read, with all the cost implications of acquiring that title, these clubs usually involve circulating books they already own. Each book is introduced with a short precis. This offers members the advantage of previewing a work before committing to read. It has the effect of narrowing the focus of the dialogue so that book and reader are more quickly and more accurately matched up. The sequential nature of the process implies that within a short time, three to five people may have read the same title, which is the perfect amount for a worthy conversation.

Catch and release

Catch and release imply that actual ownership of the book transfers each iteration with no expectation of the book returning to the original owner. The mechanism of transfer may include a personal face to face hand off, sending the items though the mail, or most remarkably, leaving the book in a public place with the expectation that unknown future readers will find it there. All three methods are utilized with BookCrossing. Participants use a website and a system of unique identification numbers to track released items as they migrate through a world-wide community. The interaction is largely web-centric, but it does not exclude face-to-face gatherings, each of which can take on the traits of other book discussion clubs.

Online clubs

With the challenge that not all members of a club can regularly meet at an appointed place and time, and the rise of the Internet, a new form of book discussion club has emerged online. Online clubs exist in the form of Internet forums, Yahoo Groups, e-mail mailing lists, dedicated websites, and even telephone conference calls. Also in the category of social networks, these online clubs are made up of members of a variety of reading interests and often approach book discussion in different ways, e.g. academic discussion, pleasure-reading discussion, personal connection and reaction to books members read.

Broadcast clubs

A broadcast club is one in which a television, radio, or podcast show features a regular segment that presents a discussion of a book. The segment is announced in advance so that viewers or listeners may read the book prior to the broadcast discussion. Some notable broadcast book discussion clubs include:

* "Oprah's Book Club", a segment of the American television show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" hosted by Oprah Winfrey
* "Book Club of the Air", a segment of NPR's American radio show "Talk of the Nation" hosted by Ray Suarez
* "Good Morning America Book Club", a segment of ABC's American television show "Good Morning America"
* "Despierta Leyendo (Wake Up Reading)", a segment of Univision's American Spanish-language television show "¡Despierta América! (Wake Up America)" hosted by Jorge Ramos
* "Richard & Judy Book Club", a segment of Channel 4's British television show "Richard & Judy" hosted by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan
* "Bookclub", a British radio show on the BBC Radio 4 station hosted by James Naughtie
* "First Tuesday Book Club", an Australian television show on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation network hosted by Jennifer Byrne
* "Jonny's Book Club", a segment of the weekly podcast "Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern" hosted by Jonny McGovern


* Association of Book Group Readers and Leaders (AGBRL), also known as the Association of Professional Book Club Facilitators, is a cooperative information clearinghouse for avid readers, both individuals and those in book discussion clubs. Its founder and director is Rachel W. Jacobsohn, author of "The Reading Group Handbook". The organization can be reached at P.O. Box 885 Highland Park, IL 60035.
* Great Books Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization established in 1947 that publishes collections of classic and modern literature for use in book discussion clubs. It also offers workshops in conducting book discussions.
* Library of Congress Center for the Book is a program of the Library of Congress' Library Services division that promotes community-wide book discussion groups through its "One Book" project.

Book discussion clubs in fiction


* "Xingu" (1916) a short story by Edith Wharton
* "The Stepford Wives" (1972) a novel by Ira Levin
* "...And Ladies of the Club" (1982) a novel by Helen Hooven Santmyer
* "The Book Class" (1984) a novel by Louis Auchincloss
* "Bloodhounds" (1996) a novel by Peter Lovesey
* "Coast Road" (1998) a novel by Barbara Delinsky
* "Sew Deadly" (1998) a novel by Jean Hager
* "The Book Borrower" (1999) a novel by Alice Mattison
* "The Book Club" (1999) a novel by Mary Alice Monroe
* "Murder in Volume" (2000) a novel by D. R. Meredith (first in the Murder by the Yard series)
* "By Hook or by Book" (2000) a novel by D. R. Meredith (second in the Murder by the Yard series)
* "Playing with Light" (2000) a novel by Beatriz Rivera
* "The Dead of Midnight" (2001) a novel by Catherine Hunter
* "Murder Past Due" (2001) a novel by D. R. Meredith (third in the Murder by the Yard series)
* "The Used Women's Book Club" (2003) a novel by Paul Bryers
* "" (2003) a novel by Curtis Bunn
* "Pure Fiction" (2003) a novel by Julie Highmore
* "Angry Housewives Eating Bon-bons" (2003) a novel by Lorna Landvik
* "Vinyl Cafe Diaries" (2003) a novel by Stuart McLean
* "The Reading Group" (2003) a novel by Elizabeth Noble
* "Little Children" (2004) a novel by Tom Perrotta
* "The Jane Austen Book Club" (2004) a novel by Karen Joy Fowler
* "He Had It Coming" (2004) a novel by Camika Spencer
* "Murder of the Month" (2005) a novel by Elizabeth C. Main
* "Tome of Death" (2005) a novel by D. R. Meredith (fourth in the Murder by the Yard series)


* "Scent of Love", a 2003 South Korean adaptation of the novel by Kim Ha-in directed by Lee Jeong-wook
* "Little Children", a 2006 adaptation of Perrotta's novel directed by Todd Field
* "The Jane Austen Book Club", a 2007 adaptation of Fowler's novel directed by Robin Swicord


* "The Couch", a 1994 episode (season 6, number 5) of the American situation comedy "Seinfeld"
* "Books", a 2001 episode (season 1, number 2) of the British situation comedy "The Savages"
* "The Book Group", a 2001-2002 British situation comedy series
* "Wedding Balls", a 2002 episode (season 4, number 22) of the American situation comedy "Will & Grace"
* "About a Book Club", a 2003 episode (season 1, number 5) of the American situation comedy "Hope & Faith"
* "The Book Club", a 2004 episode (season 1, number 4) of the American children's series "Unfabulous"
* "The Book of Love", a 2004 episode (season 5, number 12) of the British situation comedy "My Family"
* "Breaking Out Is Hard to Do", a 2005 episode (season 4, number 9) of the American animated series "Family Guy"
* "A Tale of Two Cities", a 2006 episode (season 3, number 1) of the American drama series "Lost"

See also

*Literature Circles
*Readers' advisory


* cite journal
last = Healy
first = Anna
title = Giving Readers a Voice: Book Discussion Groups
journal = Book Links
volume = 11
issue = 4
publisher = American Library Association
location =
year = 2002
month = February/March
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-02

* cite book
last = Jacobsohn
first = Rachel W.
title = The Reading Group Handbook
publisher = Hyperion
edition = Revised Edition
year = 1998
location = New York
isbn = 0-786-88324-3

* cite web
url =
title = Ten Tips for Starting and Running a Successful Book Club
accessdate = 2007-10-02
last = Jacobsohn
first = Rachel

* cite book
last = Laskin
first = David
coauthors = Hughes, Holly
title = The Reading Group Book
publisher = Plume
year = 1995
location = New York
isbn = 0-452-27201-7

* cite book
last = Loevy
first = Diana
title = The Book Club Companion
publisher = Berkley Books
year = 2006
location = New York
isbn = 0-425-21009-X

* cite book
last = Moore
first = Ellen
coauthors = Stevens, Kira
title = Good Books Lately
publisher = St. Martin's Griffin
year = 2004
location = New York
isbn = 0-312-30961-9

* cite book
last = Saal
first = Rollene
title = The New York Public Library Guide to Reading Groups
publisher = Three Rivers Press
year = 1995
location = New York
isbn = 0-517-88357-0

* cite book
last = Sauer
first = Patrick
title = The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Reading Group
publisher = Alpha Books
year = 1999
location = Indianapolis
isbn = 0-028-63654-6

* cite book
last = Slezak
first = Ellen, Ed.
title = The Book Group Book
publisher = Chicago Review Press
edition = Third Edition
year = 2000
location = Chicago
isbn = 1-556-52412-9

* cite book
last = Farr
first = C
title = Reading Oprah: how Oprah’s book club changed the way America reads
publisher = State University of New York Press
edition =
year = 2005
location = Albany, New York
isbn =

External links

* [ ALA Professional Tips Wiki] "Book Discussion Groups" article
* [ American Library Association Public Programs Office Book Discussion Series] list of book discussion programs developed by the ALA
* [ The Book Club Queen] provides book reviews and information about starting and maintaining books discussion clubs
* [] Post your book reviews and find out what others think of the books they've read
* [] Resource for choosing books and starting a book club or reading group online
* [] online reading group with live author chats
* [ The Dark And Stormy Book Club] blog-based book discussion group with podcast
* [ Great Books Foundation] the organization's official web site
* [ How To Start A Book Club] article on
* [ KidsReads Book Clubs] information for children wishing to start a book discussion club
* [ Library of Congress Center for the Book] the program's official web site
* [ Mother Daughter Book Club] Age-appropriate reading lists, book reviews, author interviews, meeting ideas and more for Mother Daughter Book Clubs
* [ Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Wiki] community site based on the "Book Lust" series of books
* [ One Book, One College: Common Reading Programs] list of college-wide book discussion clubs
* [ Reader's Circle] directory of local book discussion clubs
* [ The Reading Club] articles about starting and running book discussion clubs
* [ Reading Group Choices] resources for existing book discussion clubs
* [ Reading Group Gold] resources for existing book discussion clubs, including contests and access to early copies of new books
* [ Reading Group Guides] summaries of books with discussion questions for use by book discussion clubs
* [ "Talk of the Nation" Bookclub] a list of past shows
* [ Talkphoria] organizes live book discussion groups, held via free telephone conference calls
* [ Waterboro Public Library Resources For Reading Groups] information useful to book discussion clubs
* [ ZBookClub Online Book Clubs] online book discussions organized by title

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