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Reader's Corner - 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.

Librarian Led Book Discussion Groups at the BPL - Here are many of the book discussion groups lead by Boston Public Librarians organized by location, including contact information should you be interested in joining one.

Other Local Book Groups - A list of local groups outside of the BPL.

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?
Librarian Led Book Discussion Groups at the BPL

 

The Boston Public Library has many book groups for adults online and in our physical locations! 

Check with your teen or children's librarian to discover what opportunities exist for other age groups.

Please note that the information in this section may change at any given time. Check our Events calendar for all current events, using the filters on the left to help narrow your search, or contact the book group directly for more information. 

Due to the pandemic, most currently active book groups are meeting online. Please contact the book group for a link to their online meeting space.

 

Online Only Groups

Lunchtime SF/FAN Short Story Club - This online-exclusive group reads and discusses Hugo Award-eligible short stories in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres and votes weekly on what to read next. We meet once a week every Thursday from 1pm-1:30pm on Discord. Eating while typing is welcome! Come every week, once a month, or whenever you have time. Go to the event listing for the Discord invite link or contact Veronica for more information at vkovenmatasy@bpl.org.  

Reading the Rainbow - An online-exclusive book group geared towards members of the LGBTQ+ community interested in reading fiction, memoirs, and graphic novels that center on sapphic, transgender, and nonbinary identities. All communication takes place on the messaging platform Slack: no webcam or microphone needed! They meet the second Friday of every month at 4pm. For more information please contact Kirsten at kdecortin@bpl.org.

Virtual Graphic Novel Club - This is an online-exclusive group that meets the first Wednesday of every month, at 6:30pm. Each month, we will read and chat about 2 graphic novels or comic collections, all of which are available via Hoopla*.  Titles are currently picked by the librarian, and will range from memoir to sci-fi; super-hero to biography; romance, history, and everything in between.  If this grows, we will include suggestions from participants. For more information and to register for a Zoom link, email Guy at gharris@bpl.org. *Learn more about Hoopla here.

 

Central Library 

Book Group for Adults on the Spectrum - A book discussion group for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and related conditions or who identify as such. The discussion is held online the last Tuesday of every month at 6pm*. Registration is not required. For more information and a link to the discussion, please contact Katie at kdevine@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom. 

Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them - This group is geared toward young adults in their 20s and 30s and meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6pm. (Dates will vary for November and December based on the major holidays.) They cover a wide variety of genres so come explore and share your love of fantastic books! For more information please contact Jordan at jdraves@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Jitsi Meet.

Point of View Discussion Group - Meets the third Wednesday of each month, from 2:30pm - 3:30pm*. They read a variety of fiction and nonfiction. For more information please contact Eileen at esherman@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

Charlestown Branch

Charlestown Book Discussion Group - Meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30pm, unless it's a holiday*.  They read a mix of fiction and nonfiction chosen by the librarian, with an emphasis on fiction. For more information contact Kathy at kkire@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

Codman Square Branch

BYOB (Bring Your Own Book) Book Club - For adults, 18+. Join a book group with a twist, readers are invited to discuss books, old and new, and share recommendations. Each attendee can share up to 1-3 books with the group, just show up with the book(s) you want to share! This group meets twice a month on the 1st Friday of the month at 11 AM (in-person) and the 3rd Monday of the month at 6 PM (virtually), please join us on the day that works best for you! For more information and to register please contact Jessica at jrobayo@bpl.org.

 

Connolly Branch 

Connolly Book Discussion - Meets the last Monday of the month at 7pm, skipping December*. They read a mix of everything and the librarian chooses the books. For more information email the branch at connolly@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

Egleston Square Branch 

Food & Book Club - This is a potluck with food themes paired to the book they are discussing and is geared for adults who like food, sharing food, and cooking or buying food. Meets one Thursday a month, skipping July & August*. They read a mix of everything with a high proportion of African American, Spanish-heritage, and Carribean authors. While the group recommends titles, the librarian chooses the final titles to be read. For more information contact Guy at gharris@bpl.org. *Currently meeting mostly in-person with video chat on Zoom as a backup in case of weather or Covid concerns.

 

Faneuil Branch 

Adult Book Discussion - Meets the last Tuesday of every month at 7pm, skipping the month of December*.  They read a variety of librarian chosen fiction and nonfiction. For more information contact Amy at amanson@bpl.org or 617-782-6705. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

North End Branch

Adult Book Discussion Club - Meets the third Wednesday of every month at 4pm*. They read a mix of fiction and nonfiction chosen by the librarian, including titles with a connection to monthly historical or topical events. Contact Jennifer at jhawes@bpl.org. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

Parker Hill Branch 

Book Discussion Group - For Adults in their 20's through seniors. Meets the Third Thursday of every month*. They read a mix of everything but try to read a different genre each month. The group members and the librarian choose the books. For more information please email Karen at kgallagher@bpl.org or call 617-427-3820. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

Roxbury Branch (Formerly Dudley Branch)

Roxbury Reads Book Club - For adults, 18+. Meets once a month on Monday evenings at 5pm*. For more information, email Outreach Librarian Akunna at aeneh@bpl.org or call the Roxbury Branch at 617-422-6186. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

South Boston Branch 

Book Discussion Group - For adults.  Meets the first Monday of the month at 6pm*. This group reads a variety of fiction and non-fiction. Title is announced one month in advance. For more information please contact Kathleen at kclifford@bpl.org or call 617-268-0180. *Currently meeting via video chat on Zoom.

 

West End Branch

Book Bi Book - Meets the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30pm in person. It's an adult book group and we will read anything featuring Bi+ characters and/or written by Bi+ authors. Please contact Casey for more information at cabbott@bpl.org.

West End Book Discussion Group - Meets the third Thursday of the month at 3:00pm. This group is currently meeting online via Zoom. Please contact Casey for more information at cabbott@bpl.org.

 

West Roxbury Branch 

West Roxbury Book Discussion Group - Meets the third Wednesday of the month at 10:30am (During July & August they meet at 11:00am)*. This group reads everything except Graphic Novels. The librarian chooses the titles, but does take recommendations from the group.  For more information please contact Sheila sscott@bpl.org. *This group is currently on hiatus for awhile in 2022.

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.

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.com - 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.

ReadersCircle.org - 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!

Andrew Luck Book Club - A quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew would like people to know that jocks can be just as literary as anyone else. His book club and podcast offers a "Rookie" pick for young readers, and a "Veteran" pick for older readers every month.

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.

Readers Club of America  - A free online book club that features participation by authors on the interactive Discussion Boards.

#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, paranormal...you 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.

 

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.