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Book Groups

A Swarthmore community members consults their book

As thousands of alumni already know, Swarthmore Books Groups can be great fun and a terrific way to exercise your post-graduation brain and meet people in your area!

Many book groups, like those in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, Seattle, and the North Carolina Triangle, have been around for many years and yet are as fresh and new as the books they choose to read and discuss, as well as the ideas that fellow alumni, parents, and friends bring to the discussion.

Alumni & Family Programs can put you in touch with an existing book group based on where you live—or give you assistance in starting your own book group—contact to get started.

Planning Questions for Starting a Book Group
  1. You'll want a city coordinator for overall organization, logistics, and contact with the Office of Alumni & Family Programs. This includes preparing an invitation to local alumni to gauge interest and gather information, such as where they live or work and how they'd like to be contacted about the book group. The location information will guide the coordinator in making an educated suggestion as to how many sub-groups might be needed. The contact information is for ongoing updates to the whole group.
  2. The coordinator can make her or his own choices about a reading list or can invite alumni to collaborate on a list. Sometimes, book groups have successfully reached out to faculty (sometimes Swarthmore faculty) or authors (sometimes alumni) to take part in developing a reading list, study questions, mentoring, or perhaps a season-ending lecture as often happens in DC and New York.
  3. Each group leader can determine where the group meets. Depending on the number of people, you may need to form sub-groups (7 to 12 people). Also, a sub-group leader can be very helpful. The leader will need to decide whether meetings should be held in the leader's or other group member's homes or in other locations such as a local library, bookstore, or cafe. Some groups have also developed a rotating system for providing snack items.