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Book Discussion Groups: An Introductory Guide: Join a Book Group

A guide to joining, starting, and running a book group.
Introduction to Join a Book Group


So you want to join a book group but have no idea where to start. Let these lists guide you to your first, or next, great book group!



Why Join a Book Group? - Learn just how popular book groups are and how you can benefit from joining or starting your own!

Finding the Right Book Group for You - Lists things you should consider when looking for a book group.

Local Book Groups - A list of local groups in the Boston area including a link to those hosted by librarians at the Boston Public Library.

Online Book Groups - Groups that meet online can work really well for someone who is very busy or finds it difficult to commute to a physical location. This list can help you find your next online book group.

Why Join a Book Group


Reading is a relaxing endeavor and in our busy, stressful lives, it can be a blessing to carve out time to rest and relax while we read. Book groups are a great way to socialize over something enjoyable that has nothing to do with our work lives. Socializing also improves mental and emotional health and decreases depression. 

Why else would you want to join a book group? Here are several articles that delve into some fascinating book group and reading statistics you may want to check out:

Book Clubs are Thriving in the Internet Era - The book club may have been around for hundreds of years, but in 2018, it's succeeding in a myriad of different ways. This Forbes article delves into the details of internet book club success. 

Book Clubs in the USA - Years of research by BookBrowse provide details on how book clubs operate today.

How Women Invented Book Clubs, Revolutionizing Reading and Their Own Lives - This article from the Washington Post goes back more than 150 years to see how and why women began reading together in groups.

The Evolution of American Book Clubs: A Timeline - From Anne Hutchinson and Benjamin Franklin to Oprah Winfrey, Americans have been gathering for almost 400 years to discuss sermons, books and topics of the day. MinnPost gives a timeline of events in this article.

The Perfect Time to Start: How Book Clubs are Enduring and Flourishing During Covid-19 -  This Guardian article discusses how as the world goes into lockdown, reading groups are moving to Zoom, Twitter and Instagram to bring readers together.

The State of the Book Club - Penguin Random House surveyed a large group of passionate readers that tells us quite a bit about the reading habits and structure of book clubs, and about the people in them.

These are the Book and Reading Statistics that Show Who Readers Are - Did you know that reading reduces stress by 68%? Or that people in India average 11 hours of reading per week? Bookriot delves into the details of reading statistics in this article.

Virtual Book Clubs During the Pandemic - The ups and downs of virtual book clubs.

Finding the Right Book Group for You


What to consider when looking for a group

  • Are you looking for a themed group, such as one that reads mostly/only mysteries, nonfiction, or female authors? Or one that reads a mix of things?
  • Will a group you're interested in let you sit in for a discussion to test them out before you commit?
  • Do they have a list of what they've read in the past that you can peruse on your own so you can get an idea of what they like and what's already been read?
  • Depending on the types of books your group chooses (brand new and popular or older and maybe out-of-print) think about how you will acquire the books and whether they will be readily available from your source, whether it's a local indie bookstore, your library, or an online retailer.    
  • Are you comfortable choosing your books months in advance or would you prefer to vote on each book only a month or two away from your discussion date?
  • Would you be comfortable letting someone else choose the books without input from the group?
  • Are you comfortable with the way the group communicates in general, whether it's by email, texting, or through an online social media website?
  • Are you comfortable meeting/discussing the book, or voting for the book online?
  • How often can you meet and what days of the week are you free?
  • Can you get to the location easily, whatever your mode of transportation is?


Testing out a new group

Every book group is going to be different. For some, the discussion might be a more quiet contemplation, for others the conversation might get loud and excited, veer off track often, or they might use the group meeting primarily to socialize. Whatever your preferences, it's perfectly okay to sit in on a book discussion before committing to the group. Most librarian led book groups don’t mind if you show up and jump in without calling ahead. If the book group is privately run, you might want to ask ahead of time if it’s all right so that they know you’re coming.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when testing out a new group:

  • Are they welcoming to new members?
  • How does the group get along?
  • Was the discussion lively? Did it veer off track too much? Did they have so much to say about the book they ran out of time?
  • Did everyone get a chance to speak?
  • Was the group leader an effective moderator?
  • As a potential new member, was information provided to you, such as how often and where they meet, how books are chosen, and whether books are provided by the leader or have to be obtained by the participants?
  • Were you comfortable with the size of the group?
  • Did you get along well with the other group members?
Local Book Groups


Librarian Led Book Groups at the Boston Public Library

We have over 20 book groups at the Boston Public Library spread throughout our 20+ branches! Some are general groups for all adults that read a variety of fiction and nonfiction and others are specific to groups such as LGBTQ+ readers or young adults in their 20s & 30s. You can find all of our currently active groups on our Events Calendar here. Narrow your search by audience and location using the filters on the left. 


Other Local Book Groups

Looking for a local group outside of the Boston Public Library, but don't know how to find one? This list can help! Check the individual websites for more information about each group such as when and where they meet. Meetup and Readers Circle, listed below, can also help you find other local groups not on this list, or you may want to check with your local bookstore or other library systems for more possibilities. 

Book Club for the Curious - Created at the Museum of Science, Boston and presented in partnership with the Cambridge Innovation Center, this reading group is designed especially for those who are interested in science and technology and how it impacts our society. 

Brookline Booksmith Book Club - Free and open to the public. It is held on the second Monday of every month, at 7:30pm. No registration is required. They read a diverse selection of books. The Brookline Booksmith also has a Queer Book Club and a Small Press Book Club. (Information can be found at the same link.)

Brookline Public Library's Book Groups - Library staff members lead a variety of book discussions and other social groups for adults and teens. See their website for more information about each group.

Cambridge Public Library's Book Groups - The Cambridge Public Library offers a variety of book discussion groups for adults and children. Discussions are facilitated by library staff. See the menu on their website for more information about each group.

IndieBound Indie Bookstore Finder - Put in your zip code, city, or address to find indie bookstores near you that might be hosting a book group. - Meetup is a website for groups of all kinds that "meet up" all throughout different cities, and you bet that some of those groups are book clubs.  Click on the link to take a look at the various book clubs throughout Greater Boston. - On the Reader's Circle website you can enter your zip code and search for book clubs in the area.  These book groups vary from very specific genres to just about anything.


Please note that the information in this section may change at any given time. Please contact the book groups directly for more information and to check if they are still active.

Online Book Groups


Don't have time to rush out the door after work to meet friends in person? Or maybe you would just prefer to stay at home in your comfy pajamas? Then these online book groups could be for you!

The Banned Book Club - From The Palace Project, connect online with free banned books.

BBC World Service Book Club - Every month BBC World Service Radio hosts a discussion with an internationally acclaimed author about one of their best-known books. Submit your questions to the author online.

BookTalk - An online reading group with thousands of members and hundreds of forums. Read and discuss fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and poetry with live chats and interviews with leading authors. 

Good Morning America Book Club - Follow along on Instagram at @gmabookclub.

Goodreads - There are so many reading groups here, you may have a hard time choosing which one(s) to join! Note that a few of these groups have been listed on this page.

Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club -  (On Goodreads!) This group reads the Goodreads Choice Award winners each month, but is not associated with Goodreads or the selection process of the awards.

Go On Girl! Book Club Inc - This reading group for black women was started by three friends in 1992 and has expanded to a nonprofit organization with 32 chapters nationwide. The group's mission is to read quality works by authors of African descent.

Oprah's Book Club - You can find the complete list of Oprah's book club picks here! Follow along on Instagram at @Oprahsbookclub, or on Goodreads. Oprah's conversations with the authors are streamed on Apple TV+. 

PBS NewsHour Book Club - Hosted jointly by PBS NewsHour and The New York Times, this group reads a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about them here.

#ReadWithJenna - Read a new book every month with the Today Show host and chat with others in her Goodreads group. 

Reese Witherspoon's Book Club - Every month, Reese chooses a story she loves and announces it as her pick. Follow along on Instagram at @reesesbookclub, on Goodreads, and more importantly, through the app to learn more and be part of the community. It's all about the #loveofstory. 

Speaking Volumes - Audio Journal is an online radio station broadcasting to those who are blind. Their book club, Speaking Volumes, meets the first Tuesday of every month at 8pm, and listeners are encouraged to call in to join in the discussion. Archived episodes can be found on their website for up to one year after the discussion date.

Wired Book Club - Wired magazine reads all things speculative fiction (we're talking sci-fi, fantasy, get the idea). They divide each book into sections and aim for weekly check-ins via the comment threads on their articles, culminating in an interview with the author at the end with questions from readers. Their first book choice was N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season.


Helpful articles

Online book clubs are exploding. Let’s find the right one for you. - Washington Post article


Please note that the information in this section may change at any given time. Please contact the book groups directly for more information and to check if they are still active.