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Book Discussion Groups: Home

Resources for libraries--or others--seeking to establish a book discussion group.

About

“A book discussion group is a forum where readers can come together and talk about books and the reading experience. These groups can be organized in a variety of ways. There are adult groups, student-led groups, mother-daughter groups, father-son groups, and parent-child groups, to name just a few. At my library we have a parent-child book discussion group, but the guidelines found in this article can apply to any group with children as participants.”
-- “Giving Readers a Voice: Book Discussion Groups,” by Anna Healy. Book Links: February/March 2002 (v.11, no.4)

Many libraries provide meeting space for book clubs or administer one or more book discussion group.  This page provides general information about book groups, including with "one book" programs, some resources for guiding book groups, references for specific types of book groups, and an anonymously contributed guide to establishing and running a book discussion group

Getting Started: Organizations

Getting Started: Articles and Blogs

Getting Started: Publications

The books listed here are a small sampling of those available.  Please see the listing "Book Discussion Groups", a WorldCat list maintained by the ALA Library for more.

Historical Note

Book groups have their origins in 18th century Parisian salons and 19th century Victorian parlors.  In The Book Group Book: A Thoughtful Guide to Forming and Enjoying a Stimulating Book Discussion Group, Ellen Slezak says in the foreword, “In book groups, like-minded souls gather; what they have in common seems to be that a) they can read, b) they like to read, and c) they like to talk about what they have read.” Helen Hooven Santmyer's "... And Ladies of the Club". (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1982) chronicles a 19th century study circle. According to ALA's Brad Hooper, the oldest--and still running--book club as we know them today may be the Mattoon Women's Reading Club, founded in Mattoon, Illinois, in 1877. Book clubs were popularized by Oprah's Book Club, which ran from 1996 to 2011 on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Librarian

Karen Muller
Contact:
ALA Library
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433 x5031