What makes a good book club book?

Many book club members get their books from the library. Hurray! Many book club members also come to the library for help choosing their next book club book. Hurray again! We love to help, so please stop by the reference desk, call, or use the chat feature on our website to ask us for suggestions anytime. Here are a few general tips to start:

  • Where to begin?: Does your book club have a theme or guidelines (e.g. do you only read fiction, only biography, only mysteries, only works by diverse authors)? Try to choose a book that everyone in the group is willing to read, even if not everyone ends up loving it. (Sometimes the best discussions occur when people have different opinions about a book!)
  • Reviews and awards: If you’re still not sure where to start, read some reviews or look at some awards lists. We have lots of resources on our Book Recommendations page. Remember that awards are a good guideline, but they are also subjective. Reviewers might disagree (and you might disagree with them!), but if reviews are universally terrible or terrific, that can give you an idea of whether a book is a good choice – or not.
  • New vs. re-reading: Sometimes in a bookish group it’s difficult to find a book that is new to everyone. Are your members open to re-reading? Some people might like to revisit books they’ve already read. On the other hand, book clubs are a great place to try new things and tackle challenging works that you might not pick up on your own.
  • Page count: Everyone seems to be pretty busy these days. Before you pick a 700-page doorstop of a book, consider whether that’s a realistic choice – will your book club members be able to finish the book in time? If you decide to choose a longer book, think about adding some extra time between meetings so everyone has a chance to finish.
  • Availability: Are your book club members willing to buy the book, or is everyone going to get it from the library? We do our best to purchase lots of copies of popular books, but there is often a wait. If you look in the catalog, you can see how many copies are in the library system and how many people are waiting.
    Screenshot of catalog record for The Girls by Emma Cline with holds and copies circled

    There are 526 people waiting for 274 copies of this book.

    Are you in a book club? How do you choose your books? Which ones have prompted great discussions? Please share in the comments!

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2 Responses to What makes a good book club book?

  1. Pingback: What Makes a Good Book Club Book? – Jenny Arch

  2. Pingback: Tired of waiting? Try a readalike | Robbins Library Blog

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