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Need a Book Club Professional?

February 2, 2011
  • Does Attila the Hun take over your book discussions on a regular basis?
  • Is your reading group missing the rich symbolic references in To Kill a Mockingbird?
  • Are you overwhelmed by all the characters in People of the Book?
  • Has your book club gotten lost in the complicated plot lines in The Thirteenth Tale?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, your book club may be in the market for a professional facilitator.

“What does a professional book club facilitator bring to the table?” you ask? “Everything… ” answers Rachel Jacobsohn, founder of the Association of Professional Book Club Readers and Leaders. In an interview with, she states specifically that “participants can expect the facilitator to keep the discussion on track, to educate members and inspire them to expand and deepen their thinking about the title.”

In my own experience I’ve found that professional facilitators can add value by:

       Choosing books that will provoke a good discussion—not just ones that are enjoyable to read

       Keeping the discussion focused on the book—and not the local gossip

       Using the power of inquiry to get the group to dig deeper into the literature, while not turning the discussion into a re-run of English 101

       Ensuring each group member’s opinion is heard and valued

       Managing sensitive group dynamic issues—and following Pareto’s law, 80% is group dynamics

       Helping to celebrating the book in a fun way!

So if your club would like to rise above group gossip, avoid being taken over by Attila the Hun, and actually have an intelligent discussion of the book, it may be time to look to a professional.

Check with your local public library or independent book store to see what resources are available in your area. And if you live in the Greater Sacramento Area, drop me a line.



P.S. And if you live in Yolo County, call the Woodland Community/Senior Center (530-661-5850) and sign up for our new book club (Class Code # 1579) that begins on March 1.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2011 10:56 am

    I had no idea a book club facilitator did so many things. Too bad you don’t live in my area, BCC (southeastern Saskatchewan). You could be enjoying ice and snow and sub-zero temperatures right now 😛

    If I get some time, I have wanted to start a book club in Esterhazy (where I live in Sask.). I am going to be combing your blog for tips. Maybe I will get the chance to be a book club facilitator, since there are none around in this area. Probably the closest would be an hour’s drive away, which is daunting, especially in winter.

    We’ll see. In the meantime, I enjoyed your post.

  2. February 2, 2011 11:50 am

    Do you think most people even know that professional facilitators even exist? I also wonder if a group would have a hard time admitting they need one. Kind of like a first step thing??

  3. February 2, 2011 1:28 pm

    Dana, I think you are right on point. I have never been in a book club that would admit to needing a facilitator. And there is the payment factor. However, I think a lot of book clubs that are just muddling through would really benefit from having someone In Charge.

  4. Patricia Bolger permalink
    February 19, 2013 12:56 pm

    Glad I found your site. At the starting point of beginning my book club facilitator life…in the New Jersey area. Yes, passing the basket is not an option for our work but advertising and setting payment is the challenge I am working on now. Admittting a book club facilitator would be fun and good for all AND be willing to pay for it is a really big step for most.

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