Start a Book Club

Post by Megan and Anne, Information Services Staff 

We may be biased, but book clubs are fabulous! In this series, we’ll tell you why book clubs are wonderful, share some local clubs and provide you with ideas for hosting your own. 

Last month we showed you some great options to get started in the book club world. We shared information about book clubs happening at Kitchener Public Library, the local community and internationally. This month we’re setting you up to start your own club! 

Making it Fabulous 

What makes a book club fabulous? An intriguing book, deep discussion and fantastic setting. Like other social events, there are a few things to think about when you’re starting a book club. It is probably best to decide first who you would like to be in the club, and then figure out the other details. 

calendar and clock graphic

The Meeting 

  • How often will you meet? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? 
  • When will you meet? Pick a date and time! 
  • Where will you meet? Virtually, in a public space or in someone’s home? 
  • Will the meetings have a theme, or involve food or alcohol? 

a red and blue book stacked on top of each other

The Book 

  • What are the participants’ interests? Do they want to read something light, dramatic, non-fiction, short or long? 
  • How are folks reading? In-print, online, by audiobook etc.? 
  • Where will you get copies of the book? For free (at the library) or at a store? 
  • Have some members already read the book? 

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The Discussion 

  • Does the book already have discussion questions available? 
  • What do you want to discuss? 
  • Have you checked out websites to help get the discussion started, like Lit Lovers, Reading Group Guides, and Good Reads?  

Reading Suggestions 

If you’re ready to try hosting your own book club, we’ve got you covered with book club sets you can borrow from the library. Each set contains 8 copies of a book, as well as a discussion guide. They can be borrowed for 6 weeks, with up to 2 renewals allowed (as long as no one else has a hold on the set). 

Each of the recommendations below starts with a KPL book club set and provides other related items to watch, listen or read from the library’s collection. We’ll be back next month with suggestions for Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and more! 

Graphic Memoir: Maus by Art Spiegelman 

Maus is the first (and only) Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic memoir. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, this memoir is a great starting place as the visual form conveys another level of emotion to the reader. In Maus, the author records family conversation and memories as Jewish survivors of WWII. Follow your reading with more stories based on true accounts from the Holocaust and revolution survivors. 

Short Stories: How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa 

How To Pronounce Knife was the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner from Canadian poet and author, Souvankham Thammavongsa. The book is a collection of short stories that focus on characters “struggling to find their bearings in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values.” Our related picks also show vignettes of the condition that is being human. 

Fiction: The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb 

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a novel that weaves three stories in contemporary Vietnam, with a theme of generational conflict. Pho, the national Vietnamese dish is at the heart of the story between a Pho-stall owner, a tour guide and an art curator in Hanoi Vietnam. Camilla Gibb is an award-winning Canadian author and she teaches aspiring writers at the University of Guelph, Humber School for Writers and the University of Toronto. Our other selections highlight Vietnamese life and culture and food in Vietnam and beyond. 

Non-Fiction: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 

The New York Times called How to be An Antiracist “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” Author Ibram X. Kendi has quite a number of books on this topic (for all ages) and recently won the MacArthur Genius grant for his work. The book combines ethics, law, history and science and is recommended for folks who want to go beyond being aware of racism. As a teaser, you could watch Kendi’s TED Talk. The suggestions below all have a theme of tackling racism. 

More Book Clubs 

Need more ideas about getting started? Check out this blog from Edmonton Public Library


Looking for more suggestions of what to watch / listen / read next? Fill out a DiscoveREAD form and let us pick for you! 

Don’t have a library card yet? Get one here. Have a question? Email us at askkpl@org.   

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