There is no fear quite like of picking a book club book.
Nobody wants to be the book club member where the rest of the group is silently rolling their eyes at your pick or cursing your name the whole month as they try to slog through.
Here are some of my best tips for picking a good book club book:
tips on how to select book club books
- It’s substantial enough for discussion. This is the most important part of selecting book club books for me. I love a fluffy book on my own, but when you’re talking about it with a group, you want more than just, “it was such a fun read!” You want thought-provoking situations, characters with depth, and topics that you can discuss endlessly.
- It’s widely available. You may LOVE a book that’s out-of-print or that the library doesn’t have, but you’re likely to have way less adoption if it’s expensive or hard to find. Something that the library has multiple copies of, that’s available on Kindle Unlimited or Audible Plus or Hoopla, or that can be bought second-hand is going to help people actually read.
- Know your audience. You may have a group that does NOT go in for any books with language or sex. Maybe your group is strongly opposed to self-help books. Maybe your group doesn’t want anything too controversial. Maybe members of your group hate anything that’s too popular or they mostly want books that are getting a lot of current buzz. Stay tuned in to what kind of books work for your group.
- Aim for variety. If you’ve already read three WWII historical fiction titles this year, this might not be the year to throw in your favorite WWII book, even if it’s a terrific book. When I’m working on my Everyday Reading Book Club list, I try for a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, adult and children’s books, different genres, and different ages of books (some new releases and some much older titles). People also often want book club books that stretch them a little to read books they wouldn’t have picked up themselves.
- Shorter is often better. Probably most of the people in your book club are busy. They’re not looking to squeeze in a 500 page book this month. I think between 150-300 pages is the sweet spot for a book club book.
- Choose a book you’ve either read or HEAVILY vetted. Just because a book is popular doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good book club book. Picking something you’ve already read and know will be a good fit content and discussion wise is a safe choice and if you want to pick something you HAVEN’T read yet, make sure you do your homework so it’ll be a good experience for everyone.
Here are a few other ideas from Instagram for how to select book club books:
- Retellings or books soon to be released as movies have been fun for our book club
- Our library system has book club kits. I can assume they make good selections
- We always seem to get more discussion from a (readable) non fiction- more relate-able maybe?
- Generally avoid humor books. Those who find the book unfunny will hate it.
- Our club does a white elephant gift exchange for Christmas and those are next years books.
- Everyone gets a turn to pick. Result: variety and no hurt feelings. I hate voting
- I love when each month has a theme (i.e. self help in January, romance in February, etc).
- We always have the rule that one person has to have read it. Interesting to read and talk about.
- I’m at the point where I think maybe we should just share what WE are reading and eat good food
- We each make 2-3 suggestions, read a summary and then choose 6 at a time
- Our leader provides ideas that have a lot of Goodreads stars and we vote as a group
- I pick a genre for the month and have people send me their choices then I randomly choose one.
Any other suggestions for how to pick a good book club book? I’d love to hear!