Book Groups

Alumni Weekend

As thousands of alumni already know, Swarthmore Books Groups can be great fun and a terrific way to exercise your postgraduation 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.

The alumni office can put you in touch with an existing book group based on where you live. Just e-mail us at, and we can give you contact information. Or, if it is a new idea for your area, we can give you assistance in starting your own book group.

Pre-planning questions for starting your own group:

  1. You'll want a city coordinator for overall organization, logistics, and contact with the alumni office. This includes preparing an introduction inviting people in the region to reply with their location (town or neighborhood) and their contact information (hopefully an e-mail address). 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 interested people 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.