Building Better Book Clubs: In-Person or Online?

August 3, 2017






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

Growing up, I always thought of book clubs as something old people did. They got together in the early afternoon at the library and discussed a book they had read. It took me many years to realize the untapped potential of book clubs. But, what really makes a book club? So often, people think of book clubs as I did: As people getting together in person. Thanks to the breadth and depth of the internet, it’s easier than ever to get people to talk to each other. And this has completely affected the way we interact with books, too!

That said, we’ve also come to a place where there are just too many options. Are you overwhelmed? Uncertain where to turn for bookish interactions? Take a second to consider the below and determine which kind of book club is best for you:


Online book clubs are a newer way to be involved in a book club. Whether it means a chat room, message board, or Twitter, it’s easy to find a way to converse about books in the comfort of your own home.

These are for you if…

  • You can’t be bothered to put on pants today.
  • You aren’t interested in scheduling meeting times, you just want to chat when it works for you.*
  • You aren’t interested in a real commitment; you want to drop in and out whenever works for you.
  • You are not interested in bringing snacks to share.
  • You are anxious about meeting new people or speaking in public.

Ways to Get Involved



The traditional book club is still as alive and kickin’ as ever. Get a group of people together, grab the wine and the snacks, and get gabbing!

These are for you if…

  • You need to get out of the house.
  • You like to keep to a reading schedule.
  • You love the opportunity to build a network of friends IRL.
  • You love to bake, cook, host– well, anything related to entertaining!
  • You love meeting new people.

Ways to Get Involved

  • Stop by your local library and ask a librarian! It’s highly likely that your library is hosting a book club or knows of some around the area.
  • Start one yourself!
  • Ask your friends what they know of.
  • Google Search. I’m not kidding.
  • Start at work – many work communities have growth and development book clubs.

In the end, whether you meet online or in person, all book clubs have positive benefits. Uncertain what kind of in-person or online book club to hunt for? Check out my post about  Types of Book Clubs To Join.

What do you think?

  • Which format do/would you prefer in-person or online? Why?
  • Do you participate in an in-person or online book club? Why did you select that format?
  • What other pros/cons/examples of these types of book clubs do you have to share?
  • Do you have other ideas on how we can connect with these types of book clubs? Share below!


  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer August 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I go to a book club in person. They read adults books which I’m like meh about but i have a friend who runs it and I support her. It also forces me to touch base in the adult world regularly. lol… I’m also in a couple goodreads groups that are reading books of the month and discussing them. I’m going to participate in those some when I have my ARCs under control! <3

    • Jackie B August 4, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Good for you to support your friends! Plus, this gets you to branch out some in your reading. It’s important to check in with the adult world regularly. I guess. 😉 Have you found any books from that book club which really struck you?

      I recently heard of Read.Sleep.Repeat’s #ARCAugust. I think I’m going to participate in that readathon in order to start getting my collection under control too. I’m sooo behind with NetGalley it isn’t even funny. O_o

      • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer August 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

        I saw ARCAugust and am kind of doing it but am too lazy to write a post about it… Book Club… hmmm… The Winter Garden, A Memory of Violets, Wonder, All the Light We Cannot See, The Light Between Oceans, Same Kind of Different As Me, In the Shadow of the Banyan!

        • Jackie B August 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          The only book on this list I’ve read is All The Light We Cannot See and I *adore* it. Wonder is also high on my TBR. Why are there so many good books and so little time?! I’ll have to add, well, all the rest, to my TBR. 😀

  • annelogan17 August 3, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I just started a book club where I live and it’s been fabulous! People are dying for that bookish connection and it’s such a fun way to meet likeminded people 🙂

    • Jackie B August 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Yay! That’s super exciting!! I am working on a post for this series in the future about How to Start a Book Club– I hope that you’ll come back to share your story. Or, perhaps I could do a series interviewing people about their book club experiences? Oooh, you’ve given me a ton to ponder. Thank you! I’ll be reaching out, I think. 😉

      What sort of book club do you run? Are you finding success?

      • annelogan17 August 4, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        Yes it’s been successful so far, I approached a local literary festival that hosts it in their space and charges 5 dollars. We offer free treats, and they pay me to host the event and lead the discussion. It’s been so great we are making it a year round thing

        • Jackie B August 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm

          Wow! That’s super cool. I wish you all the best keeping that going strong. It sounds like there is a demand, which is great! Plus, having support from a literary festival is amazing. Super jealous!

          • annelogan17 August 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm

            Haha well I used to work for this festival so they are supportive of my literary pursuits 🙂

  • Lost In A Good Book August 4, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I would LOVE to be part of an in-person book club. But I’m very new to the area I live in and have zero local friends. As an introvert, starting my own seems crazy making. I’ve checked on for book clubs in the area, but no luck so far. I guess I just need to keep trying! I can’t be the only book-o-phile in my area!

    • Jackie B August 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm! I can’t believe I forgot about that option! I will totally add it to the list above. That’s a great way to try and find new book clubs. Have you checked at your local library? I’ve also found that religious and scholastic centers (community colleges, community centers, etc.) also host these sometimes. I know you’ll find your bookish community soon. Just be patient and you will find the right group! Keep up the hunt and let me know what you find!

    • Grab the Lapels August 5, 2017 at 7:43 am

      If you are in the U.S. I would recommend that you checkout to find local clubs and groups of all kinds in your area. That’s where I found my current book club.

    • Grab the Lapels August 5, 2017 at 7:53 am

      As I mentioned above, I found a book club on I have made new friends through this book club, but I feel like the people in it don’t know always know how to talk about books. They get there and tend to say they liked or didn’t like the book and are done with the conversation. Also, at the end of each meeting people can submit choices for the next month’s book and then we vote on which one we will read. One woman always chooses the newest, hottest novel out there, and those don’t tend to be the kind of books I want to read. Usually, new bestsellers (in my opinion–please feel free to disagree with me) don’t leave a lot to think about, which doesn’t give us a lot to talk about. For instance, she chose Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (which I didn’t read because it sounded so uninteresting to me) and The Woman in Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware. I’m a big talker in book club, so this time I figured it I wasn’t even remotely interested, I wouldn’t read the book and I would let everyone else talk. It all faded away super fast, like, in 15 minutes. :/

      • Lost In A Good Book August 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

        I hear you. If a book club I was in wanted to read a Dan Brown book I’d pull my hair out. I should start my own robots and magic book club lol

        • Grab the Lapels August 5, 2017 at 11:19 am

          I wish there was more structure for WHAT we would talk about so the conversation was better. Like, why not have a worksheet with places you could write under categories like plot, characters, dialogue. Or, have everyone talk about how the book may or may not connect to their own lived experiences. Something like that.

          • Jackie B August 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

            I personally find that I can help conversation forward a bit in situations like this by writing my own questions ahead of time. I don’t share them with people necessarily, but I come prepared to ask the group 3-5 questions which I hope will spark additional conversation. And it helps if I take into consideration the needs of the other readers. For example, in one book club we have only one male, so I try to find questions which I think he will personally connect to in order to get him to participate. If the person is the sort comfortable with being called out, I just ask them to talk. But it isn’t always that easy.

            Does someone “lead” this book club? It sounds like you might just need a new one…

            • Grab the Lapels August 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

              It was organized on, which is a website that charges dues for groups to be on there. Most of the original folks are gone, but it seems like whomever has been in the club the longest becomes the next “leader”–and that basically means posting the meet-up time and book we voted on.

        • Jackie B August 6, 2017 at 10:29 pm

          I love that as a book club theme, “Robots and Magic”! What would you select for the first book?

      • Jackie B August 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

        I get what you mean about new best sellers. I actually read Dark Matter for a science fiction/fantasy book club I participate in and it made for great conversation. But, it helps that we have a physicist and a theologian in the book club. It pushes us towards a lot of interesting conversation. But I can see how that might not be a great overall book club book.

        You, Melanie, have just given me some great inspiration for a future Building Better Book Clubs post. Mwaha!

        • Grab the Lapels August 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm

          Oooooh, your book club sounds so cool!!

          • Jackie B August 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm

            I love my book clubs. This is one of the reasons I started this series of posts. I realized that I had some exceptional interactions with book clubs and I wanted to help share how I got there. 😀

  • Birdie August 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Book Clubs have always interested me, but I’ve never really been interested in reading on a schedule. (unless it’s one I’m making.) I also don’t like to read what people picked out as a group. I prefer being a reading loner.

    • Jackie B August 4, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      That’s really self-aware, Birdy! I struggle with reading on a schedule sometimes. Right now, I spend a lot of late nights the evening before book club finishing the book. I do elect to DNF if I don’t enjoy the book, though. It seems like book blogging is the right path for you.

      • Birdie August 4, 2017 at 2:07 pm

        I do fine with my blogging schedule, but I’ve never been good about reading a book someone else has chosen for me.

  • KrystiYAandWine August 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I definitely prefer in person. I feel like it’s harder to have the same level of book discussion online, just because there’s so much time between people’s responses. I always become disengaged with the online clubs I’ve tried. What online book clubs do you participate in?

    • Jackie B August 6, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      I completely agree with you. I am an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of person (which is problematic for soooo many things in my life). I have a few Goodreads groups I participate in, and I enjoy participating in the Big Library Read events Overdrive hosts bi-yearly. I’ve tried a few Twitter chats, Litsy, and even the Oprah book club– but I always forget about them… O_o

      • KrystiYAandWine August 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        I’m the same way. I tried the Emma Watson book club, which was reading phenomenal books. It’s just one of those things that is at the bottom of the priority list, which ultimately ends up just not happening for me. 🙂

        • Jackie B August 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

          Exactly– I find that having other people and a set date/time to do things really keeps me on track. I struggle when I have to coordinate on my own, however. So, yes, Emma Watson’s has fallen off my radar a bit. O_o

          • KrystiYAandWine August 10, 2017 at 5:40 pm

            Exactly. That’s the good thing about hosting one through our indie, it’s on their website and calendar with our reading list, so it forces us all to stay on track. Yeah, Emma’s is a great online book club. I just struggle with GR groups for se reason. Maybe it’s the format, but I don’t find them very engaging,

            • Jackie B August 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

              Ooooh. Idea just spawned for future posts. How do you feel about writing guest posts for other blogs? 😉

              • KrystiYAandWine August 11, 2017 at 5:05 pm

                Hahaha. I feel…intrigued. 🙂 What do you have in mind?

  • Laila@BigReadingLife August 5, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve been part of a book club (with different people rotating in and out over the years) for ten years now! Recently I was a bit underwhelmed by our last pick, and I thought up a tagline for book clubs in general:

    “Book Club – Books you wouldn’t otherwise have read, plus snacks! :)” (Just kidding. Sort of.)

    • Jackie B August 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Haha!! I love that tag line. That’s super cool and so true in so many situations. I like that book clubs tend to push my reading limits. While I might be underwhelmed more often than not with certain book clubs, each book I read helps me hone my own tastes and suggestions for others more.

      Really, I just love the interaction with some of my favorite people in person. Inevitably, I receive a number of additional book suggestions and we chat about other things too. So worth it. Plus, as you pointed out, snacks!

  • Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity August 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    I always thought of book clubs as an old lady thing, too, haha. Until I started book blogging and realised that book clubs are just a collection of people who love to read and talk about books.

    Last year I was in a small online bookclub and we “met” once a month over Skype. It was really fun because even though I talk a lot about books on my blog talking about it ‘in person’ was really different!

    I wish there was a YA book club in my city, but unfortunately the nearest one is quite far away. Someone tried to start one last year but had little interest from people, which made me sad.

    I would love to join another book club one day. They’re heaps of fun 😀

    • Jackie B August 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      I’m so glad to see you’ve tried so many different types of book clubs and that you found them to be worthwhile.

      I’ve never participated in a conversation with multiple people via Skype. Was it easy to have a proper conversation? I imagine I’d always be talking over people. O_o

      Oh man! I’m sorry there isn’t a YA book club. Why do you think there was limited interest? Hopefully you’ll find another in-person book club soon! They are the best.

  • theorangutanlibrarian August 13, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    hehehe “You can’t be bothered to put on pants today.”- yup that’s me!! And I’m also a commitment phobe 😉 Buuut I do really really want those snacks!! Awesome post!

    • Jackie B August 13, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks! I think you should just go out and buy/make snacks like you’re hosting a bunch of people, then sit around and read, or participate in an online book club. I bet you would rock that.

      • theorangutanlibrarian August 14, 2017 at 7:45 am

        You’re welcome! ahh that would be so fun- thank you so much for saying that!! 😀

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