It is really quite easy to set up a reading group. There are no hard and fast
rules and the way the group is run depends on the members. The first
meeting will be the most difficult. After all, nobody really knows what to
The Group should be led by one person – at least at first. The
number of members is best limited to a maximum of 12. Any more
and it degenerates into cliques and the noisier people hog the show!
It is as well to establish early on what you all want from the Reading Group.
Some members may want something quite formal where books are analysed in detail
and discussed at great length; others will want an informal discussion over a
cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Most people just want to get
together with other like-minded people and discuss the current read.
Belonging to a Reading Group can be a challenge as members more often than not
find themselves reading – and enjoying- books they would never normally have
considered. When the book under discussion has evoked strong feelings for or
against, discussion can be very lively.
Members come and go. That is inevitable. Be quite
definite from the start that the Reading Group is for enjoyment –there are a few
people, unfortunately, who think that belonging to a reading group gives
intellectual status. Those you definitely should not encourage.
You will find over time that people find their own level within the group and it
is encouraging when the quieter members speak their minds.
Most groups meet once a month, or once every 6 weeks. Any less
frequent and everybody has forgotten what they wanted to say about the book. It
can be difficult, if the group is large, to obtain enough copies, or to ensure
that everybody has had the current book.
Choice of Books
It is best to talk among yourselves about what you would like to read –
as a group. If you have a list of available books already to hand the choice can
be made from that. It is best not to throw the discussion open to anything and
everything - that way lies disagreement and chaos! Also, of
course, cost comes into the equation, and you may find that you are unable to
purchase a recently published work which may only be available in hardback.
Luckily, there is a huge choice in paperbacks.
Be very flexible and don't insist that every book must be read from cover to
cover. Lots of animated discussion arises from people's reasons for
not finishing a book. They may have read something else by the same author and
enjoyed it , but have been disappointed in this particular book.
This can be anywhere which is comfortable and convenient.
Some reading groups meet in each other's houses, while others meet in pubs.
Libraries are an obvious choice; members feel at ease in the familiar
surroundings of the library - which is probably where they heard about the
reading group in the first place.
Once the group is established and the members have got to know one another
conversation will flow with ease. This is when it is advisable to
establish an element of authority otherwise several separate conversations will
start up at once and the meeting will dissolve into social chatter.
Don't be bossy though - the members just might get up and leave!
To read about some different types
of Reading Groups which have been set up in Highland click