How To Pick A Book Club Book Everyone Will Actually Read

by Sadie Trombetta
Paramount Pictures

As most bibliophiles already know, book clubs are fun, enlightening, inspiring — but they are not always easy to run. There are always schedule conflicts and time constraints, but perhaps the biggest challenge is picking a book club book everyone will like.

There are a lot of important components to running a successful book club — knowing the right questions to ask, finding the best way to structure the discussion, coming up with ways of keeping the meetings engaging and interesting — but the most important one is, of course, the book. If you choose something members don't like, many of them won't finish it, and whether they do or not, the discussions that happen as a result will be mostly negative, if not downright boring.

No matter how big or small your group is, finding a title that pleases every member can seem impossible, and there might always be a person or two who doesn't like the selection. That's okay! But there are a few things that can make the decision easier and help ensure more members will enjoy your monthly selection.

Whether you are just starting your first book club or trying to break out of your group's reading rut, here are seven tips for picking a book club book everyone will enjoy.

Utilize voting or group polling so everyone has a say.

One of the best ways to ensure everyone in your book club is happy with a selection is to establish a system in which everyone has a say. This can mean everyone suggests a book and you hold a vote to choose which one you read, or you present a list of options to the group and poll to see which title your fellow members are most interested in. You can also take turns picking the book, which is also a great way to explore different reading tastes and get to know everyone in the group (and what they like) better.

Choose a shorter book so everyone has time to actually finish it.

I've been there: it’s meeting day, and you still haven’t finished your club’s book. Life is really busy, and quite frankly exhausting, and there isn’t always enough time to get everything on the to-do list done. That’s why it’s important to choose books that are on the shorter size — think 250-325 pages — so every member actually has the chance of finishing it in time, and can enjoy doing so.

Alternatively, you can space your book club out more. Instead of meeting once a month, meet every six weeks so everyone has plenty of time to finish the book, and plenty of time to think of things to say about what they read.

Make sure your selection includes diverse charters.

No matter who is in your book club, reading diverse books is a wonderful way to make sure everyone is interested in the selection, and everyone can connect to it. Diverse books are a crucial part of any bibliophile's TBR list, but it becomes especially true in groups like book clubs that engage in conversation about not only literature, but culture, art, and life.

Look for books with connected themes or current events.

A fun way to make sure everyone enjoys a book and is able to engage in the conversation at the meeting is to have a few selections in a row that focus on the same theme, subject, or even current event. Has your club really enjoyed books about parenthood, coming-of-age, or modern politics? Then go right ahead, pick another one and watch how the discussion evolves from title to title.

Try novels that combine multiple genres.

Whether you are in a genre-specific club or a part of an anything-goes group, try and choose genre-bending books every once in a while. Everyone’s reading tastes are different, and choosing titles that combine elements from different types of stories is a great way to make sure all members are happy. In the process, you just might introduce your fellow readers to new genres they didn't know, but grow to love.

Utilize award, bestseller, and most anticipated lists.

The next time your club picks a book, bring in some lists of anticipated titles, award nominees, or bestsellers, and see which titles stick out to the group. You’ll have plenty of reviews, interviews, and features to help you choose.

Explore titles by local authors or about the place you live.

What better way to interest everyone in your book club than by choosing a title by a local author or about the place you all live? The shared connection will encourage members to not only read the book, but to discuss it on a more personal and maybe more relatable level.