Guide to starting a book club

The preparatory work

[1] Find a venue for the club.

People could meet in a pub but there may be a room available in a community centre or in the local library. Visit the venue beforehand to make sure that it is suitable. The best layout would be a table with chairs around it.

[2] Think of a name for the club, e.g. Club Leabhar Chill Chainnigh.

[3] Make a decision as to the time and the day of the week that the club members will meet.

You could try 7.00 – 8.30 p.m. and change the time if it wasn’t suitable for all the members. Monday – Wednesday are probably the most suitable nights and it would be better to avoid the weekend.

When you have made a decision about the time and the day, try to stick to that arrangement each month. One meeting per month is enough.

[4] Publicise the club.

Gaelchultúr have provided a sample poster for you and all you have to do is change some details (e.g. venue and dates) on that poster. There is another poster available here which can be used to publicise the club when it is up and running. It would be worthwhile to send information about the club in English (or in both Irish and English) to local newspapers and to local radio stations. This is a sample of the notice that you could send to them:

A new Irish language book club is starting shortly here in Thurles. The club will meet on the last Tuesday of every month in Room 28 in the library on Cathedral Street. Each session will begin at 7.00 p.m. and last for an hour and a half. Membership is free. To find out what book is being discussed in the first session, which will take place on the 23rd of this month, please contact Sinéad on (086) 123 4567 or send an email to

Tá tús á chur le club leabhar Gaeilge anseo i nDurlas go luath. Tiocfaidh baill an chlub le chéile ar an Máirt dheireanach de gach mí i Seomra 28 sa leabharlann ar Shráid na hArdeaglaise. Tosóidh gach seisiún ar 7.00 p.m. agus mairfidh sé uair go leith. Níl aon táille ballraíochta le híoc. Le fáil amach cén leabhar a bheidh á phlé sa chéad seisiún, a bheidh ar siúl ar an tríú lá is fiche den mhí seo, glaoigh ar Shinéad ag an uimhir (086) 123 4567 nó seol ríomhphost chuig

[5] When people call you with questions about the book club, tell them what books will be being discussed over the following two months and where those books can be bought. There is a list of the online shops and the shops in the various counties of Ireland in the section ‘Siopaí leabhar’ / ‘Bookshops’ on

[6] Three or four members is enough at the start (friends of yours, for example). Ask them to inform their own friends who have Irish about the club and to encourage them to participate in it. You should aim to have about ten members in the club. Even if you have ten members, only between six and eight of those will be present usually, and that number is sufficient; it is difficult to hold a proper discussion if there are too many people present.

[7] Give a copy of the handouts ‘Cúrsaí litríochta – frásaí agus stór focal úsáideach’ and ‘Ceisteanna samplacha don chlub leabhar’ to each member of the club, preferably before the first meeting. Inform those who are computer literate that those handouts are available on

[8] Ask the members to go to and to become members (it is free). Encourage them to express their opinions about the books you will be reading on the site forum.

[9] Send information about the club to Gaelchultúr, i.e. what day and what time the club meetings are held, room / venue, where information is available (telephone number and email address). These are the contact details for Gaelchultúr:

Telephone: (01) 484 5220
Email address:

[10] If the members have ideas about what books should be featured as book of the month on in the future, ask them to send those ideas to Gaelchultúr, or send them to us yourself.

Directing the meetings

[1] Be present to welcome the members to the meeting and to put them at their ease.

[2] Prepare the venue where the club members will be meeting in advance.

[3] It’s important that one person acts is chairperson of the group (you, probably) in order to direct the discussion and to ensure that no one person takes over the discussion.

[4] Have read the book yourself before the group comes together to discuss it.

[5] Write down the numbers of the most important pages in the book so that you will be able to locate those passages easily during the discussion.

[6] Allow other people to give their opinions first before you express your own opinions.

[7] If there are quiet people in the group, or people who aren’t confident in speaking Irish, ask them simple questions which have short answers from time to time. But don’t put too much pressure on them!

[8] There will be some people in the group who will occasionally start talking about things other than the book. It is important not to let people go overboard; as facilitator, it is your responsibility to bring the conversation back to the book again.

[9] You needn’t stick rigidly to the sample questions – they are merely a guide. Sometimes the book will trigger a lot of discussion and you will only manage to discuss a couple of the questions with the group.
If you write out your own questions for the meeting, avoid questions which are too general such as “Do you like this book?” It is much better to ask open questions.

[10] One good way to end the discussion is to ask every person in the group to give a concise opinion of the book. You can also ask them to give the book a mark out of ten.

[11] Always treat the opinions of the members with respect. Don’t say anything negative about someone else’s opinions, even if you strongly disagree with them.

[12] People will gradually leave the club because of work or family commitments, etc. It is important, therefore, to continue publicising the club and encouraging the members to invite their friends to the club.