Reading Club Questions
The only thing better than savoring a great book is discussing it with others. When preparing to lead your book group through a discussion about a book, it helps to be prepared. Take the conversation beyond simply liking/disliking a book to a deeper understanding how it affects us as readers.
Designed to help engage and excite your fellow readers, these ideas and suggestions for reading club questions will surprise you in how they launch your group into dynamic conversation.
Hearing different perspectives on the who, what, when, where and why that went into a work of fiction is both enlightening and fun. The character you view as complex and alluring may be another person's nightmare. A rural mountain setting could be one reader's ticket to paradise and another's ticket on the next train out.
As a reading club leader, you know your role is to encourage conversation (and serve good coffee). You don't have to stick to novels equipped with their own reading club questions, nor are you committed to following a built-in set. These guidelines will help engage and excite your fellow readers and are applicable to any fiction selection.
- Did you find the characters believable, and not just as individuals but in the likelihood that they would be connected to each other?
- Consider the villains. Did they have any redeeming qualities? What, if anything, made them sympathetic?
- How did the characters evolve or regress as individuals and within their relationships?
- Did you find any of their reactions and responses to be surprising? Were you disappointed in how they handled certain issues? If so, how would you have managed them?
- What do you think motivated them to make their choices and harbor their opinions?
- How well do you think the secondary characters were woven into the story? What impact did they have in telling the story? Did you find yourself wishing the book featured a secondary character more than it did a main one?
- What do you think drew certain characters to each other?
- What are some of the most admirable qualities certain characters possessed? The most frustrating? Surprising? Enraging? Did anything about a character remind you of yourself or someone you know?
- How important was the setting to telling this story? Would another setting or time period have been more or less effective?
- Would it be realistically possible for events to have happened as they did had the story been set in a different decade or locale?
- Do you feel like the settings were descriptive and able to put you into the story? Could you smell the scents and see the colors?
- Was the décor described consistent with the time period, or did that Queen Anne furniture seem really out-of-place in a story set before Queen Anne was even born?
- Did you notice elements of the setting being used as metaphors to describe a character’s emotions? (i.e. “Her thoughts were like the churning, agitated sea outside the window.") Which ones stand out and were they effective? Were they overused?
Style and Structure
- Did you note a theme in the book? What was it and how well did the author carry it throughout the story?
- If there were multiple themes, did they eventually unite smoothly to tie the story together, or were they disjointed with no real connection? Did you feel like you were reading short stories instead of a novel?
- Regarding the dialogue between characters, was it used to help tell the story or was it vague? Were there any specific things you learned from what was revealed through conversations between characters? Did the book need more dialogue or less?
- Was the use of flashbacks effective in filling in background information, or did they leave you with more questions? Did background info prove to actually be more interesting than the current state of the characters lives?
- What were some unexpected twists to the story? Did you like them or find them derailing?
- Did you think the transition between scenes and characters was smooth and easy to follow, or was it choppy and confusing? Did you get “lost” in this book because you couldn’t put it down or because you couldn’t figure out where you were?
- Did this book give you a peek into the author’s worldview? Did you see elements that indicate the author's religious, moral or political beliefs? Was it easy to guess where the author stands on controversial topics?
- Did you sense the author has a love for certain flowers, music or animals? Did the frequent use of “chocolate” to describe brown make you suspect an addiction?
- Did anything make you feel disturbed and uncomfortable? Hopeful and optimistic? Did you see solutions to certain issues in your own life? Did you gain any new awareness? Was your perspective on any subject altered for better or worse? Why was this book written? When you put these book group discussion questions to use, only one other step is required. Keep that coffee coming!
Hearing the perspective of other readers adds to the enjoyment of any book. Better understanding of characters, their motivations and their connections to others makes our understanding deeper and more rich. The description of settings adds color. Sharing the experience with other readers helps us grow and deepens friendships. This is why we come together in book groups.
Do you have a thought and wonder why I didn't mention it?
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