This is an informal guide that contains all the information one may need to start a book club here on the WaniKani forums, or to run the club for a specific pick from the ABBC, BBC, IBC, or ABC. Running a club can be an immensely rewarding experience and is easier than you might think, so I highly recommend giving it a shot if the opportunity presents itself.
The guide consists of an FAQ along with useful templates for threads and vocabulary lists. It is not a set of rules that every club needs to follow, but rather a description of how clubs typically do operate and a good starting point for anybody who is considering running a club.
Every bookclub is unique, so if you can’t find the answer to your question in this guide then feel free to ask questions in this thread!
What are the ABBC, BBC, IBC, and ABC?
These stand for Absolute Beginner Book Club, Beginner Book Club, Intermediate Book Club, and Advanced Book Club. Each is an overarching structure that organizes which books will be read by the club members. Books can be proposed to the club, and whenever one book is about to finish, people vote on which book to read next.
Who can run a book club?
Anyone! The most important thing is to be enthusiastic about the club pick, book clubs, or just reading in general. I would recommend having participated in at least one book club first, but this is not a hard and fast rule and there are plenty of experienced club members around to help guide organizers along.
In the ABBC, BBC, IBC, and ABC, the person who nominated the elected book typically runs its club, but if that person is unavailable or unwilling anybody may volunteer.
Should I start my own book club, or should I nominate my book in the ABBC, BBC, IBC or ABC?
Typically, you will get more participation if you nominate a book and it gets elected. However, there are several reasons why you might consider starting your own club. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Your book has a niche topic or genre that is unlikely to have popular appeal
- Your book doesn’t fit within the constraints of a club (e.g. you want to read a long book at an intermediate pace, but the IBC has a 350 page limit)
- Your “book” isn’t really a book (e.g. visual novels, textbooks, news, etc.)
- You have a group that wants to read a book that’s already been read as part of a club (i.e. repeat club)
- You don’t want to read your book on a schedule but you still want a place for people to discuss
What is the time commitment?
Running a club is not time consuming. It can take as little as 5-10 minutes per week to post threads with 1-2 hours at the start to create a schedule and home thread.
What are the responsibilities?
As the club leader you are responsible for creating a schedule, setting up a home thread, and posting weekly discussion threads. Optionally you may choose to organize live readings and/or create a shared vocabulary sheet.
Templates and tips for creating a schedule, home thread, weekly thread, and vocabulary sheet are included at the bottom of this guide.
Should my club have live reading sessions?
Whether or not a club includes a live reading session typically comes down to whether or not you or somebody in the club wants to plan one. They can be fun but time consuming. You also have the option to run a poll in your home thread to gauge interest. If there’s interest in having live reading sessions but you don’t have the time or desire to participate, you can delegate the task to another willing club member.
How do I organize live reading sessions?
Feel free to set a weekly time that works for you, or poll to gauge when participation would be highest (When2meet may be more conducive to this than WK polling).
Live readings take place on a dedicated WK Book Club live reading Discord server. Keep in mind that this server is only for live readings, and most substantive book discussion should take place here on the forums. If you’ve decided there is enough interest in live readings, post a message in the #general channel requesting everything be set up for the new club.
The format for live readings depends on the wants/needs of the club. There is no set way to conduct them, but typically for manga participants will take on the roll of a character while for books members will rotate reading anything from a sentence up to an agreed upon page limit. Members will help each other with readings, pronunciation, and comprehension. Sessions may also include some translation or book discussion depending on the desires of the group.
What is Natively and how do I update it?
Natively is a website that allows users to track their reading as well as review and grade the difficulty of native Japanese books and manga. If a Natively entry corresponds to a WaniKani book club book, it will also have a link to that book club’s home thread. If you read Japanese books regularly, I highly recommend setting up a Natively account.
If your book is not already in the Natively database, use this form to get it added within a day or two. If your book is already in the database, use the feedback button on that entry’s page to submit a link to the WaniKani book club thread.
Do you have any other tips for running a book club?
Yes! Follow this advice to improve the book club experience for everyone.
The time commitment is not significant, but it’s very important that it’s consistent. Be timely in putting up threads, and be available to interact with the community. If you know there is a time when you won’t be available, plan ahead (e.g. put up a thread early or designate another club member to create posts). Note that historically it is not required that the person posting threads actually participate in club reading, but it is highly recommended.
The clubs only work because people join them. With more members comes more discussion, a greater knowledge-base, and the capacity to support more offshoot clubs. Every step of the way it’s important to be a club ambassador. This includes both recruiting new members and keeping current members engaged. You may also consider reaching out to external communities of Japanese learners to make them aware of the great resource we have here in the book clubs.
Run the club by consensus
When a decision has to be made, typically it is the club organizer’s responsibility to run a majority-rules poll, and the group consensus wins. If the poll does not offer a clear solution it often falls upon the organizer to make a decision or to reframe the question. Stay open to suggestions, solicit feedback, and run the club by consensus wherever possible.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with Discourse polling tools. Some often overlooked points regarding polls:
- Ensure that “show who voted” is enabled (unless there’s a specific reason not to)
- Multi-selection vs single selection (decide which is appropriate for the situation)
- Show results after voting (or always visible, depending on the situation)
- Polls cannot be modified or deleted after 5 minutes (so they will live in your post forever)
- Discourse limits poll options to 20.
Can I volunteer to run the ABBC, BBC, IBC or ABC? What would be my responsibilities?
If the person currently running any of these threads chooses to step down, you are welcome to volunteer.
Responsibilities include adding nominations to the OP, setting up polls, updating the master book club thread, and occasionally reminding people to nominate things and vote. This is generally pretty easy since it only requires a higher amount of work (around polling season) once every few months (depending on the length of the book currently being read), and even then it isn’t much. However, since you need to change the title of the thread to mention when nominations or voting is happening and what books are selected/coming up, it can be hard to manage if you’re not a Regular.
More detailed information about these responsibilities is listed below.
Nominating books in the four main book clubs is an ongoing process, and anybody may do so at any time. Specific guidelines for nominations are detailed in each club’s home page. It is up to the community and especially the club organizer to ensure nominations follow the correct basic format.
For the week or so leading up to the vote for a new book, solicit nominations. Make a post in the club thread and change the thread title to include something along the lines of “Looking for nominations!” (Note that only Regulars can change Wiki titles, so if you are not a Regular you may need to enlist help.)
Ensure that the OP is up to date with all nominations. Every nomination should be listed, linked, and cleanly formatted. In general, the club organizer is ultimately responsible for ensuring that posts stay clean and up to date.
Typically there is a maximum of 20 nominations (because this is the maximum number of poll options that Discourse allows).
Try to catch nominations that break nomination guidelines (e.g. too long, objectionable content) early, or this could cause headaches come vote-time.
Note that nominators are typically expected to participate if their nomination wins, and ideally would also run the club (although this is not a requirement).
Running the Vote
Votes typically take the form of a multi-selection poll. The exact format is specific to the club. The vote should occur approximately 6 weeks out from when the next book would start (which is typically one week after the current selection ends). This allows time for inexpensive shipping as well as for more potential members to decide to join and manage their schedules.
Calculate the difficulty for each selection and display it next to the title in the poll. This is as simple as assigning numeric values 1-5 to the nomination’s difficulty poll and taking the average.
Look back through the threads for older polls to use as either a template or guideline for your own post. If you do use a template, ensure that all information is up to date before posting.
Advertise! Change the title thread accordingly (e.g. to include something like “Now Voting!”). Post across all potentially interested clubs and offshoots.
Selection polls are typically scheduled to close after a week at a maximum, but the organizer may choose to close the poll early once voting has dried up. Most clubs choose to also select the second place winner as the follow-on book club pick if the first place pick is “short”. Short generally means that reading the first place pick would necessitate an immediate poll for the next club (i.e. it would take less than ~6 weeks to read). Book length and expected club pace should be taken into account when deeming a book “short”.
Updating Book Club Home Thread
Update the club thread title to reflect the upcoming pick (e.g. Coming soon: ~). Ensure that the next book (ideally with a picture of the cover) is indicated below the current pick, as well as any follow-on book if one was selected.
You will also be responsible for tracking which books score low across multiple polls, and removing nominations with consistent low interest. Each club may have its own rules for which books get removed.
To use templates, click on the “Edit” button at the bottom of this post. Scroll to the template you want to use and copy everything between the two thick lines into your own post. Delete or edit all highlighted text.
For every template, please add, change, omit or rearrange based on your club’s needs or your personal preferences.
---------------------------------------------- Start Home Thread Template ---------------------------------------------Thread title should include the name of the book, the words "book club", a relevant emoji (if desired), and up-to-date information about the club's status.
Example: 地球星人 Book Club ・ Starting June 12!
Consider writing a brief introduction if your book does not have a parent club.Example: コンビニ人間 is a book about a middle-aged woman who has spent her entire adult life working at a コンビニ. It is a fascinating critique of Japanese social norms and provides a great look into Japanese culture. It was originally read in 2019 by the Intermediate Book Club. This club will follow the old Intermediate Book Club discussions and will target those who are starting to transition from beginner to intermediate level.
Upload a picture of the book cover.
Try to include at least one digital and one physical option
See the Schedule template
See the Vocabulary Sheet Template
Please read the guidelines on the first page before adding any words.
Hansel and Gretel Trigger warnings
- Child abuse
The next weekly live reading session will be [use the discourse “Insert date / time” feature to create a recurring time that adjusts to the user’s timezone] Join the Japanese Bookclub Discord to either read or listen!
Please follow these rules to avoid inadvertent ネトバレ. If you’re unsure whether something should have a spoiler tag, err on the side of using one.
- Any potential spoiler for the current week’s reading need only be covered by a spoiler tag. Predictions and conjecture made by somebody who has not read ahead still falls into this category.
- Any potential spoilers for external sources need to be covered by a spoiler tag and include a label (outside of the spoiler tag) of what might be spoiled. These include but are not limited to: other book club picks, other books, games, movies, anime, etc. I recommend also tagging the severity of the spoiler (for example, I may still look at minor spoilers for something that I don’t intend to read soon).
- Any information from later in the book than the current week’s reading (including trigger warnings that haven’t yet manifested) need to be hidden by spoiler tags and labeled as such.
Feel free to add to this as new characters / places get introduced throughout the book.
|玉葉||ギョクヨウ||One of the four (main) wives (title: 貴妃)|
|梨花||リファ||One of the four (main) wives (title: 賢妃)|
- Yes, but I might start late
If you participate, don’t forget to set this thread to Watching in order to be notified when weekly threads get posted!
---------------------------------------------- End Home Thread Template ----------------------------------------------