How To Have a Book Club Discussion

While reading a book, a club member should reflect on these questions, and research other supplementary materials. This is most important if you are leading the book discussion.

  • Did you like the book? If you have read any of the author’s other books, how does this compare?
  • What is this book’s message?
  • How did you feel about the characters? Who did you like or not like and why?
  • What did you think of the ending?
  • In a movie version, who would play what parts?
  • How did you feel when the character did or said…. How do you think the character felt when she did or said…?
  • If questions…e.g. If the characters had done this instead, how would the story have changed?
  • What do book reviews say about this book or more generally the author, and their past works?
  • What did you think of the plot line development? How credible did the author make it?
  • What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
  • How authentic is the culture or era represented in the book?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this? What is their most important message?
  • How do you think the main character’s point of view is similar or different from the author’s point of view or background?
  • What is the author’s background (their style, stature and focus)?
  • How does the setting figure as a character in the story?
  • Are the characters’ actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?
  • Is there any moral responsibility that was abdicated?
  • Are there any symbols that may have cultural, political or religious reference? E.g. flag, tree, or rose.
  • What type of vision does the author use with their word choice? Is it optimistic, pessimistic, prophetic, cautionary, humorous, satirical, venomous, cathartic?
  • What effects do the events (time, nationality, physicality) have on the character’s self or personality?

  • Most book clubs tend to read fiction rather than non-fiction. Be very cautious in selecting a non-fiction book. Most book clubs discover that there can not be much discussion about facts.
  • Book club members should be cautious about the number of people admitted into the group. Too large of a group can make some individuals refrain from offering their opinions.
  • Or a couple of individuals may dominate the discussion, intimidating other group members.
  • Have one person keep historical records of books read, and also books suggested and who suggested them.
  • Make sure everyone participates in the discussion. If a question is asked, everyone should contribute in the round robin. If you see someone being left out, prompt him or her for their opinion.
  • Keep notes while reading…and not just when you are the leader. It helps to deepen discussion if specific passages can be read.
  • Even if you dislike the book do not blame the person who suggested it. Your dislike of the book will enliven discussion. Build your reasons and enjoy that intense interaction with other club members who love the book.
  • After the discussion, you may discover an appreciation for the book that you never had before.

Just for fun, our book club assigns ratings to the books we read…

6-Book Club version of must gouge out eyes, i.e., “4 Blondes”
5-Waste of a good tree, makes me want to buy a parakeet
4-Pick it up at library or at yard sale for $.50
3-Would pay Barnes & Noble prices
2-Recommended it to everyone
1-Lock the door – close the shades – you’re not going anywhere. Just read it, don’t go another day

(It probably should be noted on the website that the ratings do not necessarily reflect the quality of the book, just how we liked it as a group. Also, the ratings do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all club members. (not everyone was at the last meeting to add their 2 cents.) It was done for fun, some small guidance and lots of laughs. :-)I think that our lists shows the diversity of interest and the willingness of the club members to read something that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick for themselves.)

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