Building Better Book Clubs: How to Join An In-Person Book Club

February 10, 2018






is a series of posts focused on all things book club related: discussions, listicles, how to’s and more!


When deciding on a book club, it’s important to start with determining if you are looking for an online or in-person book club. Once you’ve decided you want to participate in an in-person book club, how do you find one? Not everyone wants to start a book club on their own. For some people, that’s just too much. It’s easier to locate an existing group and join them. But what are the right things to do once you find a group? That’s our goal today! Let’s explore how you locate, join up with, and develop a healthy relationship with an existing in-person book club. 

Before you begin your quest to find the perfect book club, make certain you know what type of book club you want to join. There is a wide variety! Knowing your own preferences and what you are looking for before the journey begins will save you some heartache with mismatches. 

The hardest part is often finding a book club you want to join! Depending on where you are located the resources available to locate book clubs can vary greatly. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Your local library: As is to be expected, your local library is a key resource when looking for an in-person book group! I strongly recommend you stop by and talk to your librarians about book clubs they are familiar with. In many cases, libraries host their own book clubs. But even if they don’t, these are the people who have your hook up! Share your preferences with them and they’ll push you in the right direction.
  • MeetUp: is a super cool community-building tool which helps connect like-minded people all over the world. It’s simple: Identify your location, search for what you’re interested in and find some amazing local groups looking for new friends. For example, within 25 miles of where I live there are 9 book clubs I could join.
  • Goodreads: Yes, I know this is about in-person book clubs. But I located one of my favorite book clubs through Goodreads! Did you know that you can find locally-based groups on the Goodreads Group home page? On the bottom left-hand side of this page you will see a header for Groups in [your GR location]. Click on More… and you will be taken to a page for all GR groups in your area. Some of these might be online only, but it’s worth perusing to find book clubs which meet in person.
  • Friends, Family, Coworkers: Seriously, though. Talk to your friends about books and your interest in discussing books with others. You might be surprised who knows of an existing book club which would love to have you! Don’t be afraid to share your passions. You never know where they might lead.

Once you’ve located a book club, take some time to consider your own priorities and how that aligns with what you know about them already. Take your top 2-4 contenders and prioritize them based on your interest. Then it’s time to go book club shopping! Figure out when they meet, read the book, and stop by. It’s time for you to interview the book club.

I’m not talking a literal interview. Instead, participate in the discussion. Ask questions and get to know the people attending. It doesn’t matter if you have read the whole book or not. Your goal is to get a feel for how the group operates and if this book club feels like a good fit for your needs. If you can, try to get some time with the person who leads the group to ask a few more questions. I personally would recommend doing this in person if possible, but you could also get answers electronically. It’s just nice to better know the underlying personality driving the book club; this is another key indicator for personal success.

Try out a few book clubs if you can to determine where you want to be. I know it can be intimidating to show up to a book club discussion on your own, however. If this makes you uncomfortable, I strongly encourage you to find a book buddy. Bring someone along on your book club test rides! This person might even end up joining you when this is all over. Or, worst case, you have someone to chat with about what book club you think is the best fit for your needs.

Joining a new book club can be intimidating for many reasons. New people, new locations, uncertain social dynamics, unclear reading and discussing preferences are the most common. But unless you are willing to do the research and take the plunge yourself, you will struggle to locate a solid book club which will fit your personal reading needs. I strongly recommend taking the time. It has never led me astray.

What do you think?

  • Does joining a pre-existing book club intimidate you? Why or why not?
  • What additional tools and resources do you recommend using to find existing book clubs to join?
  • Have you ever researched and found a book club to join? Share your success stories below!


  • Helen Murdoch February 11, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    I was in two in-person book clubs, the first for 21 years and the second for only 2 years. I realized that while I enjoyed the socializing, I didn’t enjoy reading books that others chose that I wasn’t interested in. 🙂

    • Grab the Lapels February 12, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      I’ve found some long-running book clubs have been the same few people for decades, and they don’t want new members. Those sound awesome to me.

    • Jackie B February 16, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      I think that’s a great reason to stop participating in a book club! There are only so many hours in the day to do everything we want to do– you shouldn’t be forced into reading what you don’t want to. Do you find that blogging scratches your itch for discussion, then?

  • Grab the Lapels February 12, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I found my book club on the first meeting was in someone’s house, so my husband took me there to make sure I wasn’t yanked by knife point right away. But when we got there I was too shy, so he came in too. Now he’s also in book club! Although he wants and loves to read, to he’s stubborn, so I have to harass him to read the books every month.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom February 12, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Great tips as per usual Jackie! I found my current book club through my sister-in-law, but I am starting my own book club within my own community of women as well. I had multiple women in my community ask me about a book club (I’m known as the local book nerd if you can believe that lol) so I finally mustered up the courage to start my own. I had NO idea about the Goodreads locally based groups or! Even though I am not currently looking to join up any more book clubs, BUT now I can direct others to these resources!

  • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks February 14, 2018 at 11:33 am

    I once started a book club. But it was barely about books, somehow… We found it hard to have discussion about the books, I guess there always needs a leader, and we just had no such person (I’m not that person xD) But… it would be interesting to be in a live book club. Maybe when I’m old 🙂

  • (Danielle) Books, Vertigo and Tea February 16, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I am just afraid of commitment But your are so right here. When I feel like I might want to get serious with a club, I can never decide what I am hoping for or seeking. It is like a bad dating scene for me haha.

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