Tips for Running a WaniKani Book Club

I was planning to comment on this waaay earlier, so my apologies for not having done that!

It’s just that, hmmm, I found it very confusing (even after your edit) so I did not really know where to start with my comments :flushed:

But by now I’ve thought about it enough, I guess, so I think I’m ready to comment.

The first thing is terminology. There are clubs that do the voting and stuff, and there are clubs that read a book together. These two things feel a bit mixed-up in the OP and the terminology is not clearly separated.

The second thing is order. You mainly start with the clubs that do the voting (I know that that was your focus when you wrote it, but anyways), but that’s a tiny fraction of all activities compared with the clubs that do the reading. Therefore I’d suggest reordering.

I think this is how I would set up and structure the OP, and the terminology that I propose:


Welcome! Here you can find information about how we read books together in the forums.

Book reading mainly uses two structures:

A Reading Club is a group of people that get together to read a given book. There often is a schedule, and the club members clarify language questions as well as discuss the overall contents of the book. Reading Clubs can be started independently or can be part of a Book Club.

A Book Club 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. There are several Book Clubs in place, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, and also some special interest Book Clubs, e.g. for all books written by a given author.

How to run a Reading Club

Whenever a book is picked in one of the Book Clubs, or whenever a group of people decides to read a given book together, a Reading Club has formed. The host of the reading club usually sets up the following threads:

  • Home Thread: Here all information about the Reading Club is grouped. This includes general information about the book as well as its reading schedule and links to the individual discussion threads.
  • Discussion Threads: Depending on the number of readers in the club, the structure may vary. The official Reading Clubs (i.e. those that were the result of a voting process of one of the big Book Clubs) usually go by weekly discussion threads, while others may organize their discussion threads by chapter or even by volume (if the number of participants is very low).

(add more information here or further down if necessary)

How to run a Book Club

etc. etc.


What do y’all think?

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I don’t know about the term “Reading Club”. To me they are still book clubs, and I’ve never once heard them referred to as reading clubs. If anything, the beginner, intermediate, etc. clubs should be the ones with special names, though I don’t know what I’d call them.

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Then maybe you did not participate in those:

https://community.wanikani.com/search?context=topic&context_id=54622&q=Reading%20Club%20%20in:title&skip_context=true

:wink:

But you are right that this is not a general convention. Especially in the context of this thread‘s OP I felt the strong need to be able to distinguish those two concepts, though. That’s why I’m proposing to call them that going forward.

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So what you’re calling a Reading Club is what I called a “General Purpose Bookclub”, and what you define as a “Bookclub” is what I called a “Specific Bookclub for a Book or Manga Volume”. I referred to the BBC, IBC, etc. as the “main” bookclubs.

I think the issue is that the terms I used assume too much familiarity with WK bookclubs in general. I also haven’t heard the term Reading Club but the way you define Book Club and Reading Club is a useful distinction. I see how it’s confusing to call these two different types of entity “Book Clubs” (even though that does seem to be how most people on the forums refer to them).

The order made sense when I wrote it because it moved down the hierarchical bookclub structure, but considering that the tips should apply to the full spectrum of bookclub activities, many of which occur outside the “main” bookclubs altogether, you’re right that the focus should be on “reading clubs”.

I think what might solve a lot of problems is rewriting/restructuring with reading clubs and clubs outside the “main” structure as the primary focus. Especially with the new Book Clubs forum section, it would probably make for a much better landing-place for those looking to run bookclubs than it currently is.

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Actually just the other way around :wink:
A Reading Club is about reading a book, a Book Club is about choosing a book.

I‘m open to other suggestions, though. But honestly, „General Purpose“ and „Specific“ bear very little meaning to me personally, that’s why I actively searched for other (and shorter) terms.

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What if we call them Book clubs and Book club Headquarters (HQ)? ABBC HQ, BBC HQ, IBC HQ, ABC HQ. :grin:

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What I‘m wondering is: Why are so many threads actually called „Reading Club“? Do you think it’s an unnatural term?
(For me it fits perfectly so I‘m not willing to let go yet :wink:)

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I don’t find it unnatural, no. I have nothing against the term, actually. It’s just that the distinction between Reading Club and Book Club is not immediately clear to me without explanation.

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While it’s not an unnatural term, and I actually don’t mind using your distinction here, the differences between a Book Club vs. a Reading Club (at least where I live) would be:

  1. Reading clubs are meant for kids and usually are run by a school. There is not a set book for the kids to read, but rather a variety of options curated by whomever is running the club; it’s essentially a space for kids to gather and have guided reading time with teachers/parent volunteers. Oftentimes, kids can bring their own books in as well, and the adults who are there, are basically there for any questions about words or something the kid doesn’t understand.

  2. Book club describes what we do here: read specific books and discuss those books.

I don’t know if that’s just a regional thing or what, though. I do agree that without it being explained, though, the difference between “Reading Club” and “Book Club” feels marginal, which I think is the issue with “General Purpose” and “Specific”, as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any better suggestions, though. Offering a short definition of what is meant by whatever we select before going into the full details might be the only way around it. :person_shrugging: (which as I look closer and wake up, you suggest doing anyway as part of your formatting, so I see no reason your idea doesn’t work)

Edit: As I re-read the description I gave of a “Reading Club,” substitute kids with language learners, and actually, that might be a closer approximation of what the ABBC, BBC, et al, actually do, other than they do pick one book at a time, rather than everyone reading different books and asking questions about their specific book when they come up. :laughing:

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Same. Cause you could interpret them the opposite way as well. A Reading Club is a club that is primarily interested in reading for reading’s sake, and whichever book it is is less important (hence the polls), whereas a Book Club is primarily interested in reading a particular book for that book’s sake.

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I think it’s an unnatural term, at least in American English. When people read a book together it’s part of a book club. Generally a book club is a group of people who pick and read books together. I’ve never participated in one in person (so I could be wrong), but I don’t think they would distinguish between the two parts. The people make up the book club, and reading specific books is simply a part of that.

For what it’s worth, I’ve always thought of the beginner, intermediate, etc. book clubs as being “recurring” book clubs (even though “recurring” may not be the best fit either) and ones for individual books being “specific” book clubs.

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As one of the people who’s used “Reading Club”, here’s my logic.

I noticed Yotsuba volume 1 was listed as a “book club” and volume 2+ as “reading club”.

I thought “reading club” makes sense for reading a compilation of volumes (not just a single book), sort of for reading a series.

Having “reading club” in the title helps distinguish it from the active recurring book clubs.

The reasoning is all my own internal thinking, and I don’t consider it to apply in any other way =)

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Not to seem facetious, but why are we discussing this naming of things again?

The purpose, as I understand it, is only for use in organizing the information for this specific thread. Not for anything actually outside it, right? So adding a bunch of terms, only to separate out the info on how to do polling/nominations/etc. vs how to run the actual reading of the book seems a bit… unnecessary to me. And complicated.

Personally I agree that the more general purpose information (aka how to run the actual reading of the book) should go first, and the next/last section can be about how to run nominations/votes/etc.

But do we really need to call them different things? Because technically, they are only different parts of the same thing. We just have some group organized book clubs (ABBC, IBC, etc.), and some that usually one person (or a couple/few people) organize. (Although to be fair, the behind the scenes works are mostly done by only a few people even for the group ones. Thanks to all of them! :blush: )

Why not just something like:

Running the reading of a book for a book club

Or shorten it to “Running the reading of a book club”, or even “running the book club”.

How to do the nomination/voting/etc. for "recurring" book clubs (ex: ABBC, BBC)

Feel free to substitute the word recurring for any good descriptor. Perhaps “reading level” or whatever.

I’ve added some other suggested wording if you expand.

(But maybe I’m just missing something with this whole convo, not gonna exclude that possibility. :joy: )

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I agree. I think making two separate names “official” will just make things even more confusing.

Also, are we trying to solve something that’s not a problem? Is there severe lack of people volunteering to run book clubs or a lot of people complaining about the process being confusing?

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I know that I personally would be a lot more likely to both run my own book club and help out with the main ones if there was a guide I could read that tells me all the steps that needs to be taken. With handy templates perhaps also behind details tags.

Because it takes away the uncertainly and the need to ask one of the already overworked volunteers. I’d love a good tutorial/guide.

But I’m also the kind of person that reads manuals and faq, and hope I can find my answer there so I don’t have to bother people. :woman_shrugging:

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I like the template idea. We could probably scrap most of the specific how-to information and throw templates in there instead as a point to deviate from.

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So the history of this is that the Beginner Book Club was orphaned because of Radish’s sudden disappearance ( :cold_sweat: ) and somebody was interested in taking over the handling of the club but there was some insecurity on what it actually entails. So @jhol kindly stepped up and provided the description in the OP to clarify what it actually means. There was some discussion about the text and jhol rewrote parts IIRC but then the discussion somehow ended. I had meant to participate in the discussion but due to bad timing on my end, I remained silent. Due to the new Book Clubs category, the discussion came up again, and especially since a WK mod suggested to pin this thread to the category (which didn’t happen in the end but anyways), I figured it might be worthwhile to improve the text with regard to the issues I had.
My main issue is that I have no idea what the OP text is talking about until I reach the bottom-most two details foldables. When I read the intro, some parts seem to match the “general-purpose bookclub”, others seem to match the “specific bookclub”, and I’m really lost as what it might mean for me if I want to gather information on what my duties would be regarding either of them. That’s why I suggested to clearly describe at the top of the page what we are talking about, namely two different things that both somehow get the term “book club”. As they already get somewhat different names, I figured it might be helpful to sharpen these names a bit, and so I went with what I found in the wild, namely “book club” and “reading club” :woman_shrugging:

Clearly the world doesn’t agree on terms either :joy_cat: I’m sorry.

Well, my world is often a very ordered one :grin: so I would like to use these names everywhere actually… but at least I would like to make the guide as understandable as possible. If that can be achieved with a somewhat wordier description without assigning proper names, then be it so :sweat_smile:

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Well, I just read through the intro two paragraphs, and I think the only thing that might need defining is what main book clubs means. I think anyone who’s participated or lurked in the book club area (formerly reading area) can figure out that the main book clubs are the reading level ones. Otherwise I didn’t find anything that was confusing about what applied to what. (Honestly can’t see anything that mentions that at all, actually. *confused look*)

Could be cleaned up a bit, to make it a bit more readable and flow better. (That could also kill the voice which makes any text more interesting to read, but I’m sure we can figure out how to make it not sound like an information robot.)

Am I right in that you are looking at it from the lens of: I suddenly have to help run the BBC, where do I find that info?

I suppose if that was the info you were looking for, then right now, it isn’t immediately obvious which detail tab you should open for that info.

Clearly a re-structuring of the information is needed. I totally agree with that.

But, you suddenly need to lengthen the info a lot more, if you also want to delineate what is a reading club vs a book club, and what of when people just use the word book club, what do they mean then? And no matter which terms you choose, you’re going to run into the trouble of people using the wrong ones while discussing and then awkwardly you yourself have to decide if you should correct them (so as not to confuse later readers) or just ignore it because we all get what they mean.

So while I wholeheartedly agree that the info needs a good going over or two. Perhaps an effort that would be good to have looked over by someone like me who have never run it, as well as all our experienced runners (so nothing is forgotten), I don’t think giving the different kinds of clubs different terms is going to be what fixes the current problem.

(Also, if we start dividing book clubs into different categories, then there are at least three ones. (1) the main/reading level clubs, (2) the organized/read together off-shoots and series clubs, and (3) the here is a place to discuss this book(s) aka read whenever you like aka no reading schedule applies. And there might be more categories. And hey, maybe it wouldn’t be bad to have a detail tag that discusses these different kinds, but I’m not sure that naming them is the problem we need to solve. ^^ )

Honestly, this is me too. Why do you think I got involved in the discussion? :joy: I can feel myself galloping straight for: I’ll help you organize this info stuff because an ordered world makes me feel happy and safe. :sweat_smile:

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Thanks for chiming in btw, I appreciate that!

Well, actually I think that’s part of the struggle with the text: I’m looking at it through the lens of somebody who has heard of book clubs, who has maybe participated in reading one or two books, and then stumbles upon that thread. Maybe I’m even looking at it through my own eyes at the time when the thread was published.


This is my thought process when I try to read the OP without assuming anything:

So you want to run a Wanikani bookclub?

ah, this is about how to go about reading a book together with others as a group. Nice.

Or maybe you don’t want to, but the responsibility was foisted on you anyway.

hm ok, I thought the ones who propose a book get to run the club, but maybe not always? Anyway.

Nearly all of the club organizer duties are straightforward and low time-commitment and can be learned by participating in a few bookclubs, but I’ve collected them here as an informal checklist for current organizers and as a way for future organizers to see what these duties entail.

nice, now I get to learn what I need to do when I run this thing where a book is being read with others.

I’ve tailored this guide primarily towards the four “main” bookclubs,

ok so maybe things are handled differently for the different club levels? Hmm…

but most of the information applies to running any WK bookclub.

I see, some things are different but most is the same, no matter which level the book in question belongs to.

I’ve also kept things general, as a lot of the specific methods for selecting books, collecting nominations, etc. varies club-to-club and is usually detailed in the bookclub home threads.

but…but… I just wanted to learn how to run a club for a book! What is this now about?

Also, I expect these guidelines to change as the bookclubs mature, so I implore club organizers to add/edit information as they see fit. This is not a set of rules that clubs ought to follow, but rather a description of how clubs typically do operate (i.e. clubs should not change how they run to follow this guide–club organizers should change this guide to reflect how clubs decide to run).

hm ok, a disclaimer. Understood.

Who Can Run a Bookclub?

Ah, now it’s back to running a club for a given book? Hmmm…

Anyone! The most important thing is to be enthusiastic about the club pick, bookclubs, 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. 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.

OK, so it IS back to talking about a club for a book. Because, why would it say “Anyone” otherwise? There are usually people who run the main clubs, there is not much fluctuation usually, so this MUST BE meant to encourage people to propose their books to clubs and then also run the club for the book once it got picked. At least that is the 99% use case, right?


OK, so far for a look into my head. Maybe it is now a bit more obvious where I’m coming from with my criticism. I’m not making this up - when I read this for the first time, this was pretty much what happened to me: I had no clue what was being talked about, and I could not fit the terms with my real-life experience of book clubs of both kinds.

Now, if you all sigh and moan and think that my head is really funny and that the text is absolutely clear to you and there are no misunderstandings, then I’ll happily shut up :wink:

Well, I gave an example a few posts above. I literally meant that to be everything that should be in the OP (the dropdowns should contain appropriate lists of course). I wrote up such a list for the “overarching club things” in the Beginner Book Club when we discussed the responsibilities (I can search that list again if desired.)
That’s actually quite a bit shorter than the current OP, I thought. But of course maybe I missed out on things that need to get back in again.

Yes, that’s indeed an issue. I thought it would be easier (as I literally found those terms already in the existing threads) but if their usage differs so much by region then maybe we need a lengthier description? That could simply be plugged into my text as given above.

Yeah, probably some more, see the Master List :slight_smile:

OK, I see that this seems to be the general tendency here. Fine for me, if we can find another way to clearly describe what’s being talked about in the OP :blush:

Like I said, thank you very much for this! Let’s see what will come out of this :wink:

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I think it would be better to focus on running specific book clubs (not the difficulty group threads). A lot more people run specific books clubs since people typically run the book club if they nominated the book, not to mention just random “how about we read this” situations. On the other hand, we only need (at most) four people to run the “difficulty group” threads, and then the responsibilities are pretty much “ask for nominations and hold a poll when needed”. I think that last bit could almost be a footnote like “oh by the way, if you really want to run things you can volunteer to do this too”, but I wouldn’t focus on it much.

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