A good book club is essential to the conversation around novels. Book clubs have become increasingly popular in the last three centuries, but its roots in literary analysis culture date much further back. Book clubs have been a staple of American literature since the 1600’s, when Puritan spiritual advisor Anne Hutchinson organized a female discussion group to analyze weekly religious sermons. This new sense of community created a tradition of women’s analytical discussions of serious texts. Book clubs remained in style with intellectuals throughout the decades through notable organizations such as the American lyceums (1826), the Book of the Month Club (1926), and The Literary Guild (1927). With the growth of the digital space in the 1990’s—and with the Oprah Winfrey seal of approval—book club accessibility expanded exponentially. Today, it is estimated that there are more than 5 million book club members in the United States, and still growing!
How can you join a local book club?
Maybe you’re just old-fashioned, or maybe you prefer face-to-face interaction in a group setting! While there is no master list of book clubs, here are a handful of ways you can find an in-person book club:
Many public libraries offer regular book clubs. To find out more about what your local library offers, visit their website, their social media handles, or contact a staff member! There are four regular book clubs with our local Chestatee Library System.
Similar to libraries, many bookstores (both independent and affiliated) have book clubs. If you want to become more familiar with your local independent bookstores, try the Indiebound database! To get more information on a bookstore book club, visit their website, give the store a call, or reach out on social media. Chances are they will advertise their other event opportunities there as well.
3. Online Databases
Meetup is an easy way to find local book clubs. This website offers a vast array of options and has something for everybody! To find a book club on Meetup, you’ll first have to register on the site. Once you’ve gone through that process, you can do a simple search for book clubs. Your results are dependent on your area and how far you would like to travel.
Reader’s Circle is a database that seeks to “renew the spirit of dialogue that animated the early coffeehouses of early modern England and the salons of Enlightenment France.” They forego the typical book club structure for a looser format called a reader’s circle (their namesake), in which all reading paces are welcome and easy conversation is encouraged. All you have to input your zip code in the search box to find relevant clubs.
4. Ask Around
The simplest method. Asking your friends or peers for their recommendations can help widen your search!
How can you find a digital book club?
In order to accommodate everyone’s needs, a lot of book clubs have gone virtual! Here is a list of some digital book club options:
Goodreads is a (mostly) online-based book club site, but some clubs are hybrid. Goodreads uses features like suggested groups or recently active groups for new visitors. Be as specific as you want when searching for book clubs.
Reddit, like Goodreads, uses a traditional forum platform to discuss books. Viewing book clubs on Reddit without an account is possible, but making an account is required if you want to comment and discuss the books. For specific book club needs there is a subreddit (a community) called r/bookclub, which has over 105,000 members. This forum’s main features are monthly book discussions and a helpful reading calendar. Their monthly book picks are decided by Reddit’s user voting system, and they have expanded to include a Discord server. If this community is not for you, Reddit offers other related communities to participate in. (I myself am a frequent lurker and poster on the r/suggestmeabook subreddit with 1.7 million members). Or, you can visit the search bar and type in “book club” to find all sorts of options!
Whether you prefer the classic in-person book club model or a digital book club structure, you are guaranteed to find a community of people to discuss and analyze books with wherever you go!
Looking for book suggestions? Check out our Year of the Books reading challenge. Interested in more great content? Follow UNG Press on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and find our complete catalog on our homepage.