Book Club People – How Do You Choose Your Books?


Recently I was reading an awesome post of Elizabeth’s at Silvers Reviews and she was talking about book club books.  She was saying that her book club puts book choices for a year in to a bowl and each month they draw out of the bowl and choose their next read.  She said this kept people from becoming hurt if their book was not chosen as everyone has a title in the bowl.

For us (The Bookies!)  We have had a tried and true system that I really enjoy since we began in 2001. We encourage each person to bring a book suggestions with them to the group.  When it is time to pick we go around and everyone who brought a suggestion gets a chance to give a little description of the book.  We ask that it follows this criteria:

  1. It should be a newer release (unless it is classic month) as there are 18 of us and we have to find copies

  2. It can be paperback or hard cover as long as it is under $15

  3. If you can share where to find it and at what cost that is a plus (such as “the library has 4 copies in book and also an audio version” or “Target currently has this one for $8.99 and there are about 12 copies available.”


When the nominees are in we go around the room and we each have two votes.  The two votes stems back to when we were a very small group and we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; the two vote thing sticks to this day. 🙂

The book with the most votes is what we read for the next month.  In the event of a tie, the decision goes to the Queen (oh and that is another post entirely….hee hee)

I like our system as we are not eliminating the possibility of choosing a book that just came out or to our attention.


If you are in a book club or reading group, how do you choose what you will be reading?  It seems like every one I talk to has a different way of doing it and I am fascinated by all the ideas out there. 

Please share here how your book club picks its books 😀

65 thoughts on “Book Club People – How Do You Choose Your Books?

  1. We have a really interesting process. We choose our books for the year! We meet in January, each member gets to pitch 2 books. We the vote on a long list, then vote on the shortlist and that is our list for the year.

    The only requirement is that by the time we read the book, it must be out in paperback. So if we vote to read a new release, we can place it late in the year, to guarantee that it will be available in paperback. Also, with a year’s list in hand, we can give it to our local library and they round up copies for us.

    This works great and we have been doing this for 14 years!

  2. Our book selection is the sole discretion of that months hostess. It isn’t a group decision. Even if don’t like it you’re committed to read at least 100 pages.


  3. The ones I do are associated with the bookstore, so it has to be one that the bookstore can acquire and sell. Usually, people throw out titles for consideration. We see if anyone has strong feelings for or against them. We usually try to avoid too many hardcovers unless its one we really want to read. And in the YA, we try to not do too many of the same genre in a row.

    1. We used to have a “no hardcover” rule but occasionally books come out that the hard cover is more reasonable in cost than the paperback so we threw that one out and went with a price cap instead 😀

      1. That doesn’t work for ours, since it doesn’t happen in an indie bookstore like ours. But it is more of one of the people of a largely 4 person book club doesn’t have room to store hardcovers unless she absolutely can’t wait for it. And that’s a YA one, so there hardcovers are cheaper. And the cows will be home before Fault in Our Stars is put into paperback.

  4. My book clubs are a little different because they’re run through the library. Every six months, we pick the next six books. Members can recommend books and the librarians will narrow down which ones are available in paperback and available for order in bulk (this might be good for your big group). Then the members vote on which ones to read and the librarians pick what order.

    1. We have an assortment of ways that our group reads the book. Some are strictly library or they borrow it from one of use who has finished it. Some (like me) usually buy them – I get so many books for review I like to pay for book club books like my dues to the publishing industry 😀 We have Kindle and Nook readers and audio book listeners too. I love it when someone does the audio so we can talk about the difference 🙂

  5. Since my book club meets only 4 times between September and June, the four of us make lists of books that we would like to read and discuss what our books will be for our meetings at our meeting in June.

      1. There are only 4 of us in the group, so we meet twice in fall and twice in spring. Its myself and 3 friends from high school. It is fun and we have been doing it since the fall of 2006.

  6. I run a book club through the library so we make sure the book is at least 6 months old so we can assure copies for everyone. I take suggestions from everyone but ultimatly the decision is mine.

    I would suggest checking with your local library for books too, our system does a program called “Book Club in a Bag”. Each Bag provides all the components for a successful book club:
    • Multiple copies of a book title
    • Author biographical information
    • Discussion questions and plot summary
    • Tips for starting and leading a book club
    • A recipe for the club’s meeting

    1. The book club in a bag sounds neat. I am thinking of putting one together for The Book Thief. My evening group really wants to read it but there are so many holds so I’ll probably have to purchase copies…

      1. Our evening book club is doing that book this month. The holds demand was so great that the system purchased more books for the branches.

  7. My neighborhood book club has a Yahoo Group. We rotate whose house we meet at each month. The person who will be hosting for a given month puts up a poll with three choices. This way, the hostess can choose some books she’s like to discuss when she hosts. Then the rest of the group votes on the choices. Whichever book wins is the book we read for that month. We usually try to complete the poll at least 3 months ahead of time in case we choose something that has a long wait at the library.

  8. I run two book groups at my library. I ask people for suggestions but usually I am the one who puts together a list of titles for them to vote on. They seem to like it that way. We always read books that have enough copies available through our library system and I order the books in for the members to check out.

    I get my suggestions from various places like other library book group selections,, book reviews, and blogs. I would like it if the members were more active in selecting books but so far the best I can do is get them to vote on a book from the list I put together. They will give me input on the kind of book they want to read (or want to avoid). I try to vary things so we aren’t reading too much of a certain kind of book (war related books, historical fiction, etc.)

    This month we are reading The Light Between Oceans in one group and Me Before You in the other. Next month’s picks are The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Rosie Project.

    1. Oh Me Before You!!!!! I am so hoping my book club chooses that for our next read 🙂 I think when you say that you pick some titles for people to vote on and they like that – I think that is the norm… people tend to like to be a part of something but not necessarily want to make the big decisions 🙂

  9. We have the same system as Julie. Each month one member chooses three books and the members of the club vote. That way we each get to read a book we have chosen, but the rest of the club have a bit of choice as well. It works very well for us.

  10. This is an area my book club struggles with. Everyone brings suggestions to a meeting and then we read all of them – often in alphabetical order. The problem is many of the books are not great book club choices – they might be good but there’s really nothing to discuss. I’ve tried to talk them into other ways of selecting books but they won’t listen to me!

    1. We are similar – we allow each person to bring one book to the vote. Sometimes we have a lot of suggestions, but usually a lot of people did not have time to suggest one or didn’t see one that they felt would be a good book club read. We do occasionally run into the ones that are hard to review because there really is nothing to talk about, like you mentioned.

  11. My book club has a rotation – everyone has a month and it just rotates around year after year. The person whose month it is, is in charge of choosing the book and hosting. It is interesting, because we never know what we are going to read, and it forces us to read books that we might not ever pick up.

    1. We do that now too. I do think it’s nice that no matter what you eventually get to pick a book… and it has forced me to read some things I would have never picked up otherwise. We tried voting and drawing names out of a bowl it just got to the point that some people were upset they’re books kept not getting picked.

  12. Our book club meets monthly. There are eight of us and we take turns. Whoever’s turn it for the month, presents 3 or more books to discuss. After a discussion, it is ultimately whoever’s turn it is to choose. (Usually whether someone already read the book, library availability and price are also considered.)

  13. Oh my gosh! I might have to write a blog post about how we choose our books. This will be so much fun!! (I’m such a book dork) More later….

  14. It’s interesting reading all these different ideas! Our book club (11 years old and going strong!) has a pretty good system for choosing books. We have the same rule as many others – soft covers or nothing over $15.00. We draw names at our September meeting to determine who is picking the book for which month. Some members bring two or three and we vote – other times someone will just chose one title and tell us “This is the book!” The person who chooses the book also leads the discussion (after wine and appies, of course!) We also have a routine for starting and ending our monthly gatherings. We begin by sharing our personal “highlight” and “lowlight” of the month – a great way to stay connected to these wonderful women! We end our discussion by each sharing the “moment in the story that sticks” and why It’s interesting to hear the diverse range of “moments” from the same book! This month we are reading “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty. Thanks for this great post!

  15. we all [between 8-12 members, depending on the months] think WE have the best system for book clubs, lol, the book potluck: we each presents the book we read and liked in the previous month. so great mix of genres at each meeting, great recommendations, great discussions, as it not unusual to have read some of the books presented or some related to the same theme. and works great with men and women in the group

    1. That’s fun too! In July each year we have what is a free read – where you can read anything you want. We have a big picnic in July and our Queen event and while we eat we all go around and share what we have read… its a great way to get ideas for future reads 🙂

  16. I like your idea of fairness.I found the books I chose for a book club I joined were never read by the others, and it does leave you feeling a tad hurt!

  17. My book club too is all about how easy it would be for everyone to get the book. But the bottom line is probably that no one REALLY thinks they like what the others pick, so everyone is just waiting for their own turn! LOL

  18. I’m in two book clubs and both pick the same way – we just take turns picking the book. One book club we do it in order of birthdays, the other one was sort of a random order but now we know the rotation so we have stuck to it. It works for us!

  19. I didn’t see this until today. Not sure why since I am subscribed to your blog.

    THANKS for using an idea from my post. Here is the entire way we came about choosing.

    We compiled a list of books that each member submitted along with a brief summary, typed the list into an Excel Spreadsheet, and assigned a number to each book title. To save time, and to spare feelings, a number is pulled out of a hat at the end of each meeting, and that is the book that is chosen for the upcoming month. This solved our book-choosing problem, and we have “saved” our book club.

    THANKS, Shelia. Love all the different ways folks choose books.

    Here is the full post from my blog: Book Club Choosing Post

    THANKS again for this great post.


  20. We have a rotation – whoever’s turn it is can bring in any number of books to vote on or select ONE for us without a vote. We meet at our favorite watering holes – this is usually a more contentious vote than the book! We used to have a hardcover rule but so many of us use Kindle that we’ve read more recent releases than years past.
    I love that ‘moment in the story that sticks’ idea to encourage discussion! I saw another club that has everyone think of three words to describe and we’ve tried this but it didn’t stick.
    We will be doing our Holiday pick for 2014 as a gift idea: Choose a book you really want to read, wrap it and we have a gift exchange (yankee swap!) and then MUST read it for January’s meeting. I hope we remember – we were all excited about the idea when we heard about it.

  21. What a fun post, Sheila – I enjoyed reading all the different responses. My neighborhood book group (which recently read their 150th book!) has a process which works well. Whoever is hosting (we meet every 6 weeks) chooses 4-5 choices. We try to stick to stuff out in paperback though it’s not a hard and fast rule. The host prints pages with a short synopsis of each book and hands them out. Then we vote on the choices while we eat dessert! Whatever book is chosen will be discussed 2 meetings from then…that gives everyone plenty of time to get a copy and to read it. Alternating who chooses the choices is nice because everyone has a chance to pitch their favorites.

    I also belong to another group – they were using a sort of random process (I ended up suggesting books most of the time because of my book blog!), until last year when I suggested they try the same process as my neighborhood group. It’s a much smaller group, so they usually stick to 3-4 choices, but rotating through the group member list is working well now.


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  22. My current book club has people bring suggestions, and we try to pick books 2-3 months out. Sometimes we forget, and then whoever is at the current meeting gets a lot of sway. We also have our mobile devices up checking the availability of library or Amazon ebooks for picks — some books have fallen because we reject their formats. We have a few guidelines — December is always a kidlit book, and January is a book-themed movie.

    I was in an Awards book club once, where each month featured a different award. That was fun because it had all genres — Mysteries, Newbery winners, Pulitzer nonfiction, etc. It didn’t have to be that year’s winner.

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