London - For many, it is the perfect way to relax with like-minded individuals and discuss that best-selling thriller.

But anyone using their weekly book club simply to catch up with friends, beware.

A list of reading group “don’ts” has been drawn up to keep discussions on track – meaning those who fail to follow the rules risk being banned altogether.

The list, by website The Middle Class Handbook, advises readers to stay away from 19th century novels – and alcohol.

However, its top tip for achieving book club harmony is banning “over-opinionated” friends from the discussions.

“The point is to talk about the book – to share ideas, pick apart the prose, discuss the feelings evoked,” the authors say.

“None of this is possible if one member is shrieking, ‘It’s an allegory, why are we talking about this?’”

And the website warns of another danger – the temptation to drink too much.

“It’s nice to be out on a weekday but it’s easy to get carried away,” it adds. “The discussion is dispatched within ten minutes, and the evening is spent polishing off another bottle.

“Terrible midweek hangovers utterly wipe out the glow and people will stop coming.”

And for those who have failed to do the required reading, another tip: do not watch the film version instead.

“The book club that drifts away from the book towards discussions of Sean Bean is destined for failure.”

However, many readers will be surprised by the final rule: avoid George Eliot’s 1871 novel Middlemarch at all costs.

“Someone will confess ‘I’ve never read Dickens’ and then ‘we should try the classics’ rears its fearful head. Attempt anything pre-1900 and your club will shrivel up and die.

“Middlemarch is the death knell. It is seven months since we started it and we have no plans to meet soon.” - Daily Mail