Choosing and acquiring your group's next read is often the most important part of a book group!
Book Selection Qualities to Look For - What books make for a good discussion? Find out here!
To Vote or Not to Vote - When and how will you choose your next book? These options can help give you some ideas.
Book Groups with a Theme - Ways to incorporate a theme into your group, theme options, and links to reading challenges around the world.
Acquiring the Book - Will your participants borrow the book from their local library or purchase it? What will these options mean for your group?
Good qualities for a book discussion
Liking the book is secondary to a good discussion. Remember that some of the best book discussions come from members who did not enjoy the book or when the group is split on a book.
Types of books that make for a good discussion
Things you might want to avoid
A note about graphic novels
Graphic novels can be great reads, but they don't always offer up much in the way of a discussion. One way to get a good discussion going is to read two or more graphic novels for one group meeting. Since they are usually quick reads, that's not asking a lot of readers, and with more than one book to discuss, you can have a compare and contrast conversation while also answering the usual discussion questions. Choose similar themes, different titles by the same author, or books that are widely different from each other, the choice is up to you.
When will you choose the books you read?
When you choose your books will depend on multiple factors!
How will you choose the books you read?
There are many different ways you can choose the books you read. If you decide one way isn't working for you, it's perfectly okay to try out something new.
Do you have a theme?
This is not to say you must have a theme. Most book groups forgo themes and read a different type of book every month. It's good to have an idea of what you want in advance so that everyone is on the same page.
If you are interested in having a theme, make sure it's broad enough that you will be able to find enough books. For example, something like "art mysteries" are not nearly as plentiful and easy to find as "cozy mysteries" or "women authors".
It is also possible to choose a different topic or genre for each month and then choose titles to match:
Having a focus like these can also help your group members feel less overwhelmed by all the options out there when they nominate titles. Depending on how far into the future you plan, if you know that in July you'll be reading a Mystery novel, you can start a list of possible titles well in advance and then vote when you're closer to the discussion date.
Keep in mind, you don't have to do this the same way every year. It can be fun to change it up every January or on the anniversary of your first meeting.
Possible theme ideas include:
Reading challenges can be a great boost to your personal reading list, but they are also great for book groups!
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for 2023 - This annual challenge is a list of 50 fun and unique book prompts that will help you accomplish your reading goals, whether you simply want to read more books in the coming year or you want to diversify your reading by diving into niche genres, discovering lesser-known authors, or branching out of your book comfort zones.
The 2023 Master List of Reading Challenges - This is is a compilation of YEAR-LONG challenges designed to level up your reading year. Check back every Sunday through January 2022, as the list is updated with new reading challenges for the year ahead.
How will members acquire the book?
Make sure the book you choose is easily acquired by all of your members.
eBooks & eAudiobooks
eBooks and eAudiobooks are also a possibility for group members to purchase for themselves or to borrow from the library. When borrowing these electronic items from the library for a large group, however, it will be helpful for you to know how each of these platforms work:
You can learn more about our different eBook and eAudiobook platforms on our Stream & Download page.
Project Gutenberg - There are many classic books that are now out of copyright and are available at websites like Project Gutenberg! As there is an overwhelming number of books to choose from you may want to go through their list of top 100 downloaded books, where you’ll find many recognizable classics. Project Gutenberg books can be downloaded in a variety of formats and should be compatible with eReader apps such as Books (for iOS devices) and Kindle (platform agnostic).
Checking the Boston Public Library's Catalog
A note on availability
There are several types of items found in our catalog that BPL patrons cannot take home from the BPL, or request from other libraries in the BPL system.
If you are still unsure how many copies of a book the library has, or would like help, ask a librarian! We are always happy to assist you.
Borrowing from Other Libraries
If the BPL does not own a title you are looking for, you may request it from another library system by following these steps:
If you are a Boston Public Librarian, log into the Staff Intranet for information on requesting titles for your book group.