For those of us to like to socialize, the act of reading can feel a bit solitary and even lonely. Fortunately, there are plenty of book clubs to help make reading more of a social activity. But it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes time to find a book club! Would it be nice if there was some sort of all-inclusive, highly-cataloged book club directory so you could find exactly the right fit for you? Sure! But life’s tough.
There’s no good way to compile such a dream database, but we’re here to help at least a little. Here are a handful of ways to find a book club, whether you want something big or small, in-person or online, or general or specific.
I’d be bad at my job if I didn’t at least mention libraries here. Many public libraries—and even some libraries of other kinds—offer regular book clubs. To find out if your library has a book club and what kind of club it is, there are usually a few paths. Try first looking on their website. Many libraries have online calendars listing events. Some calendars are even searchable, and you can easily type “book club” into a search box to find upcoming programs. Some may be casual, monthly events and others may be big pushes for town- or county-wide reads which culminate in a big author event.
If a website search doesn’t pan out, try calling the library or visiting the branch to look at flyers or even speak with a staff member about offerings. Some libraries hold book clubs off-site (even at bars, cafés, and other cool locations), so you’ll want to double check a location before showing up. You’ll also want to find out if the book club requires registration—some do, for reasons like keeping the group to a manageable size and promoting.
Library book clubs are great because most of the time, the library has enough copies of the book in question that participants don’t need to purchase it. They are also free and sometimes provide refreshments. Finally, library book clubs tend to be led by pretty much the closest thing you can get to a book club professional: library staff!
Book Stores and Other Businesses
Like libraries, many bookstores also look to fill a community need of bookish socializing. You might already be familiar with your local independent bookstore(s), but if not, you can give Indiebound a whirl. Indiebound’s Indie Bookstore Finder is easy to use. Enter your address or zip code, select how far you’re willing to travel, and hit the search button for a map and list of near-to-you independent bookstores. Indiebound’s list links to the store’s websites, and, from there, you’ll be able to check individual websites to find a book club.
Remember that independent bookstores don’t always have a ton of money or time to throw around, so their website might be simple. It’s possible they share more information on social media, so check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for potential events.
If you have trouble finding event information online, try giving the store a call or stopping by for a visit to determine upcoming events. Many bookstores have not only book club events, but also author visits—and sometimes the two things are tied together.
In addition to traditional bookstores, it might also be worth checking your local cafés, yarn/craft stores, bars, and other hangout spots. Some places are always looking for ways to bring new customers in and book clubs are a great way to do it!
Meetup can be something of a mixed bag—sometimes you’ll find something great and other times it can be something of a letdown. The great thing is there are often many to choose from and nothing stopping you—except for hours in the day—from trying them all. 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 or get really crafty and try searching for something more specific like, “classic science fiction book clubs.” Your results will depend largely on how urban your area is and how widely you cast your net (you can adjust for how far you’re willing to travel).
Once you’ve built up a bit of a profile on Meetup, the site will recommend relevant groups to you, so keep an eye on the “suggested meetups” feature as well as the search page.
Many Meetups are free to join and participate in, but the site does collect a fee from the group’s organizer, who might then pass that on in the form of membership fees. An organizer might also collect more than is needed to keep the group in Meetup for things like fees for using a space to meet, refreshments, and so on. Most of these are legitimate, but do your research.
Bonus: Some Meetup groups (in my experience) have moved to Facebook to avoid organizer fees. If you have a Facebook account, try searching for “[your town’s name] book club” or some iteration of that to see what comes up. You might also try asking on a community Facebook page—you may find out about clubs that don’t have an online presence.
My Book Club
My Book Club is one of the closest things to that dream database—at least in theory. With international search functions, you can visit My Book Club and enter your location to find the nearest club. Their search also allows users to limit results by gender, age, and distance. Results list the club name, location, and current read. Some pages also include club discussions for folks who might not be local (or are but choose not to attend the physical event). My Book Club also lists users with a picture, so those who add a picture of themselves are easy to identify if you ever go to an IRL event.
In addition to a search feature, My Book Club offers lists of the most popular book clubs and new book clubs. If you can’t find one near you, My Book Club helpfully suggests starting one of your own. They walk you through registering your book club on the site so others can avoid your fate and find your club to join.
If online book clubs are a little more your scene and you have an account, give Goodreads a try. Book clubs of all kinds can be found under Goodreads Groups. If you’ve already joined some, those will appear on the Groups landing page. If not, you’ll see suggested groups, recently active groups, and other featured groups depending on your reading activity. Use the search bar at the top of the page to find a book club and, like Meetup, be as specific or as general as you’d like to find the perfect fit.
You’ll want to be aware that not all Goodreads Groups are book clubs, but a quick poke around any of the forums should clear up what’s what. Goodreads Groups book clubs are fairly easy to navigate and resemble a lot of the classic online forums of yesteryear with nested commenting and a very basic interface.
While Goodreads Groups book clubs tend to be online affairs, you may find the occasional group that also has an in-person option. If that’s something that’s important to you, check out the Events link on their page or scroll through discussions to find out if they meet IRL.
Reddit, like Goodreads, uses a traditional forum platform to discuss books. There’s “The Reddit Book Club” which boasts 47.7k members as of this writing and, along with discussion, provides a helpful reading calendar and tips for getting through a given title.
If The Reddit Book Club is a bit much for you—or maybe you want something to supplement it—it’s easy to find others on the site. Visit the search bar and type in “book club” to find all sorts of options, from clubs focused on philosophy books to clubs focused just on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.
Viewing book clubs on Reddit without an account is possible, but you’ll need to register if you want to participate.
Find your tweeple on Twitter if you like things a little more fast-and-loose. Once you’re logged in, head to that ever-faithful search bar and give “book club” a shot in a general search. You may find existing clubs with in-person elements as well as strictly-on-Twitter or strictly-online clubs. Remember that the Twitter search defaults to top results, so it might be worth switching to the latest tweets to find a book club.
Getting more granular results if you’re looking for something genre-specific is more difficult on Twitter, but not impossible. Try “sci fi book club” or whatever genre you’re looking for in the search bar and you might find something suitable.
Many Twitter book clubs rely on a hashtag to gather book club discussions. Once you find what your relevant hashtags are (largely by using the methods above, though you might also ask around), you’ll be in good shape. Just make sure to use that hashtag when you participate so others can find you, too!
Buddy reading, described in this blog on the topic as “like a book club without the ongoing commitment or geographical restrictions” might also be a good fit for you. Though traditionally, the idea is for two people to read a book together, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be more than two.
Finding buddy read opportunities on Instagram is a bit of a challenge. If you pick through enough comments on a bookstagram post, you’re likely to find at least some references to an upcoming or ongoing buddy read. Switch over to that commenter’s account and you may be able to join in the fun.
If that fails, you might also try searching the #buddyread tag is also an option. Or, of course, you could start your own buddy read with a friend and encourage others to join in.
Celebrity Book Clubs
Oprah. Reese Witherspoon. Sarah Jessica Parker. Emma Watson. Celebrities of all stripes love books. Some of them, like these four, have even started book clubs of their own. You might see stickers on books in Target or elsewhere proudly proclaiming it’s been a selection for so-and-so’s book club (and that’s one way to seek these kinds of clubs) or maybe you saw an article shared on Facebook that so-and-so announces the next title for their big read. Some sites have rounded up existing celebrity book clubs. But as more appear on the scene, the best way to keep up with them is regular Google searching (or set up an alert) and following celebrities you like or think are likely to set up a book club on social media (particularly Twitter and Instagram).
You know we had to! We have our own book club resources as well as Book Riot Insiders. The latter is not a book club per se, but we talk books all day, every day in Slack and some folks have developed book clubs—both in-person and online—within that space. Come on in, the books are fine!
Or, if you don’t want to find a book club and prefer to start your own, we have ideas on that too.