Updated: August 24, 2023

How to Run an Office Book Club

You found our article on how to run an office book club.

An office book club is where book lovers in a workspace come together to discuss their favorite novels. A book club is a great way to incorporate constant learning in the workspace. This activity aims to foster a great relationship with your employees and improve their work experience and overall organizational culture.

An office book club can be part of team building exercises, relationship building activities, and culture building ideas. For some great workplace reads, check out our lists of motivation books, communication books, and company culture books.


This article includes:

  • how to start an office book club
  • office book club ideas
  • how to run a book club discussion
  • book club agenda ideas
  • how to run a great book club at work

Let’s jump right into it.

How to start an office book club

If you are searching for ways to create an excellent work experience for your employees, then creating an office book club is one of the best options. An office book club is one of the best ways to foster personal and interpersonal development among your employees.

Before starting a book club, you want to make sure your employees have adequate information and have shown interest in joining. To make your club a success, focus on the most important steps.

1. Define Goals

Defining clear goals for your office book club lays the foundation for its purpose and direction. Consider whether your aim is to foster professional growth, encourage personal enrichment, or strengthen team bonds. Having a well-defined objective helps guide book selections, discussion topics, and the overall club experience. For example, if the goal is professional development, then focus on books that enhance skills relevant to the workplace. On the other hand, if personal enrichment is the focus, then consider a diverse range of genres to broaden members’ literary horizons. By communicating these goals to members, you create a shared understanding that enriches the reading journey.

2. Select Books

The process of selecting books involves a delicate balance between accommodating diverse preferences and fostering engaging discussions. You can encourage member involvement by allowing them to recommend and vote on book choices. This inclusivity ensures that the club considers a variety of interests and promotes active participation. To keep the reading experience dynamic, consider rotating genres and themes to cater to different tastes. By prioritizing authors from various backgrounds and identities, you create an inclusive and thought-provoking reading list.

3. Create a Schedule

Establishing a well-structured reading schedule is essential to ensure members have adequate time to read and prepare for meetings. First, determine a suitable reading timeframe for each book, considering its length and complexity. Then, decide on the frequency of meetings, whether they occur monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, and choose consistent meeting dates and times to facilitate planning. By announcing the book selections and schedule in advance, you give members the opportunity to organize their reading and attendance effectively.

4. Hold Meetings

The heart of the book club lies in its meetings, where members come together to discuss their thoughts and insights on the chosen book. To make these discussions engaging and inclusive, assign a different member to lead the conversation for each book. This process ensures diverse perspectives and keeps the discussion fresh. You can incorporate icebreaker activities related to the book to set a relaxed atmosphere and encourage open sharing. In addition, provide discussion prompts that cover various aspects of the book, from character development to thematic exploration. Encouraging respectful exchanges of differing opinions creates a dynamic and enriching dialogue that deepens members’ understanding of the material.

5. Incorporate Themes or Activities

Incorporating themes or activities related to the books can elevate the book club experience beyond traditional discussions. For example, invite guest speakers, authors, or experts to provide unique insights on the book’s themes. You can also consider organizing movie nights to compare film adaptations with the original text or host themed events that immerse members in the book’s world. These activities enhance engagement and create memorable and interactive experiences that enrich members’ connection to the literature.

6. Ask for Feedback and Adapt

Continuous improvement is vital for the ongoing success of your office book club. It is important to regularly seek feedback from members through surveys or open discussions to understand their preferences and suggestions. You can use this feedback to adapt meeting formats, adjust schedules, and refine the book selection process. Be sure to embrace experimentation by introducing new formats or collaboration opportunities with other book clubs. To inform future decisions and create a vibrant book club experience, reflect on the club’s journey, acknowledging both successes and challenges.

Office book club ideas

There is a never-ending list of e-books and paperbacks. Choosing which books to read might feel impossible! So here are work book club recommendations by genre.

1. Self-Development

The following are some of the best books in the self-development genre:

  • Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy
  • Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel

Here are more professional development books.

2. Business

The following are discussion-worthy books in the business world:

  • Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
  • Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity by David Allen
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  • Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Check out more business books.

3. Fiction

Here are some of the best fiction books to include in your book club readings:

  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  • The House of Wolves by James Patterson and Mike Lupica
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

There are many different types of fiction, and your group may gravitate towards some more than others. For best results, ask members to name some of their favorite books and choose titles with similar themes.

4. Memoirs

Here are some of the best-selling books in the memoir niche you should add to your reading list:

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang

These books are some of the best-selling books in their genres and are among the most reviewed reads by many book clubs. If you are not sure what books to read first, then you can rely on these ones for an interesting book club meeting.

How to run a book club discussion

Incorporating a work book club into the office’s activities can be challenging, especially if you have never been a book club president. Discussions are an essential aspect of any book club. It is hard to lose members if you create lively, dynamic discussions. The following are useful tips for running a book club discussion.

1. Prepare Beforehand

Before the book club discussion begins, thorough preparation is essential. As the discussion leader, take time to immerse yourself in the book’s content. It is important to familiarize yourself with the plot, characters, and underlying themes. Developing a set of thoughtful discussion questions will guide the conversation and ensure that no key points are overlooked. Additionally, having a clear understanding of the author’s intentions and the book’s cultural or historical context can add depth to the discussion.

2. Open With a Welcome and Icebreaker

Creating a welcoming atmosphere at the beginning of the discussion is crucial for setting a positive tone. You can start by warmly welcoming participants and expressing appreciation for their attendance. An icebreaker activity that relates to the book’s themes or characters can help break the ice and create a sense of camaraderie among members. Icebreakers can range from sharing a memorable quote from the book to asking participants to describe a character in three words. This initial engagement sets the stage for open and active participation throughout the discussion.

3. Share Discussion Guidelines

Setting clear discussion guidelines ensures that the conversation remains respectful, inclusive, and focused. Be sure to remind participants of the importance of active listening and encourage them to value diverse viewpoints. You can emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers and that all insights are valuable. Additionally, encourage participants to build upon each other’s contributions and avoid dominating the conversation. By establishing these guidelines, you create a safe space for members to express themselves and engage in meaningful dialogue.

4. Start with General Questions

Starting the discussion with general questions allows all participants to share their initial impressions and reactions to the book. This step sets the foundation for deeper exploration by highlighting common themes or points of interest. General questions can include inquiries about the first impression of the book’s writing style, characters, or setting. Also, this approach encourages all members to participate and establishes a framework for more specific discussions later on.

5. Explore Characters and Themes

Diving into character development and underlying themes adds depth to the conversation. You can encourage participants to share their thoughts on character motivations, relationships, and transformations throughout the story. Additionally, exploring the book’s themes and their relevance to real-life situations can spark insightful discussions. This exploration encourages members to think critically about the author’s intentions and the broader messages conveyed by the narrative.

6. Analyze Specific Scenes or Quotes

Selecting a specific scene or quote from the book for analysis provides a focal point for in-depth discussion. You can ask participants to dissect the selected passage’s significance, symbolism, and emotional impact. In addition, encourage readers to explore how this scene contributes to the overall narrative and themes. By analyzing specific textual excerpts, participants can engage in close reading and uncover nuances that might otherwise be overlooked.

7. Reflect on Personal Connections

Toward the end of the discussion, invite participants to reflect on any personal connections they felt with the book. For instance, encourage readers to share moments or characters that resonated with their own experiences, beliefs, or emotions. This introspective reflection adds a personal dimension to the discussion and invites members to share on a more individual level. These insights can lead to deeper discussions about empathy, relatability, and the power of storytelling to connect folks across diverse backgrounds.

Book club agenda ideas

A book club agenda works like every other meeting agenda. The agenda lists all activities in the order of execution, usually including timestamps. Your agenda should be simple enough to fit into the set meeting time. A book club agenda should typically have five main parts, including the following.

1. Introduction

Here, you welcome new and existing members to the book club. You also introduce the book the group is reading and the section you will discuss.

For example, “Welcome to our second meeting this week. We are reading The Shining by Stephen King, and chapters three and four will be our discussion points.”

2. Summarization

Summarization involves book club members recapping the main events of different sections in the reading selection. To involve group members more fully, you can assign a different participant every meeting to give the summary.

3. Discussion

At this point, ask club members about their reading notes and discuss their topics. Then, you can discuss the predictions from last week’s reading selection and intriguing sections in the new chapters. Finally, you can ease into the questions you have prepared.

4. Prediction

After thoroughly discussing the chapters, the next activity on the agenda should be predicting what will likely happen in the following chapters. Guessing the next chapters’ points builds momentum and makes members eager to read on.

5. Set Reading Goals

The next point on the agenda is setting the next reading goals by selecting the chapters to read. You can create your book club agenda following this format or download online templates.

How to run a great book club at work

If it is your first time heading a book club, then it may initially seem intimidating. You be overwhelmed between conceiving the idea and actually creating the group. However, starting an office book club differs from running one. You have to work hard to ensure its success. We recommend implementing the following tips to ensure you run a great book club at work.

1. Do Not Force Participation

Even though you are the company’s boss, you should avoid forcing any employee to join your book club. Some workers are not interested in books, which is completely fine. Once you start an office book club, send out invitations the whole company. However, ensure that only those genuinely interested become club members.

2. Select Captivating Books

A book club is for reading thought-provoking books that provide the basis for enlightening conversations. You can start by reading bestsellers or highly recommended books on most social media websites. You want a book that attendees would enjoy reading and debating, hence the need for captivating books. Then, members will look forward to every discussion session.

3. Provide Books If Necessary

Since it is your idea to create a book club, you may need to invest in purchasing some of these books for employees. Depending on your audience, you may need e-books or paperbacks. Although some employees may have personal copies, providing books is a great way to encourage participation. It is also a great way to grow the company’s library.

4. Make Meetings Easily Accessible

It is almost impossible to have each member present at every meeting. However, you can include those physically absent via conference call. You could also create audio recordings of the meeting and send them to members. Aim to include the book club members in every session, ensuring a successful book club all year long.

5. Stick To Your Schedule

If you decide to hold book club meme time biweekly, quarterly, or every month, then ensure that you stick to that schedule. When you are inconsistent with the timing of your meeting, it becomes easy for members to lose interest because it shows a lack of seriousness. Aside from sticking to your schedule, we recommend emailing members beforehand to remind them of upcoming meetings.

6. Offer Refreshments

You should not underestimate the power of refreshments. Sometimes, the idea of having extra refreshments can draw workers to the book club. Besides, if you meet just an hour before closing, then you will need to serve light refreshments. By then, most employees may be too tired and hungry to want to attend a meeting. Offering refreshments is convenient and makes your employees feel welcome.


Aside from helping improve the company’s culture, starting an office book club is a great way to foster cooperation and understanding among employees. If you need help forming a proper office book club, then this article is the ultimate guide to establishing one. Following these work book club recommendations  agenda ideas, and tips will help ensure the continued success of the book club.

Next, check out our lists of leadership activities, social committee ideas, and community building activities.

FAQ: Office book club

Here are frequently asked questions on how to run an office book club.

What is an office book club?

An office book club is a place where book lovers in a workplace come together to discuss various books. These books could discuss nonfiction, business, self-development, or fiction.

How do you run an office book club?

You run an office book club by first understanding the purpose, selecting the right books, and encouraging employees to participate. You should also select the right schedule for the club.

Why should you start an office book club?

Running an office book club will improve your relationship with your employees. These meetings also foster unity, teamwork, and healthy relationships among employees. An office book club is important because it greatly improves your organizational culture and helps better your employees.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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