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Book Club Tips and Golden Rules for Discussions

Book Club Tips: Updated on March 23, 2014

Here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind whether you’re attending a book club meeting or hosting one.

When book club members get together you can usually count on good fun, good company and great socializing. What’s not to like? But with all the fun you have at meetings, it may be easy to forget that you need to exert a little effort too if you want to have good discussions.

• Come prepared to talk about the book. Think about what you liked or disliked about it, and point to specific examples. You can save time by marking passages with sticky notes as you read so you don’t have to go back and look for examples after you’re done.

• Give your full attention to other members when they talk, and don’t start a separate conversation with the person sitting next to you.

• Save unrelated personal stories for social time leading up to or after book discussion.

• When you host book club, have a set of questions ready to keep conversation going. You may use the General Discussion Questions for ANY book or write your own questions and/or mix these up with book club guide questions that may already be written for specific books.

You may want to ask out of the ordinary questions that will get your members thinking differently. For instance, you could ask, “What kind of books do you think the main character likes to read?” “What do you think happens after the book ends?” “What will you remember about this book a year from now?

One idea to encourage participation is to toss a beanbag. You can start off by holding the beanbag and asking a question you’d like everyone to answer. When you’re done, toss the beanbag to someone else in the group and ask her to pose the next question. Continue around until everyone has a chance to lead a discussion point.

• General: Attempt to arrive a few minutes early for set up time especially if you are bringing snacks that require warming. (Traditionally in our club snacks are brought by each attending member so there is a variety of food to choose from and this spreads the costs among members.) Be ready with book titles and perhaps dates in mind that work for your next meeting. Offer to help clean up before you go.

Some Golden Rules For Book Club Discussions:

• What happens in Book Club stays in Book Club - Share your thoughts, enjoy your conversations, and create a free and fun environment where everyone knows it won't be water cooler talk the next morning.

• Book Club Discussion time is not therapy - Although at times we all go through crisis and life changing moments that consume our thoughts, it's best to restrict your talking about such things during your social time or not at all. The other members of your group have come to book club to explore books and relax and spend time with friends.

• Comment on the comments or the book, not the person making them - Keep your comments on the discussion points being talked about or the book in general - not about the person making them. Nothing should be personal. The fun of good book club discussion is in the different points of view. You may not agree with a statement that was previously made about the book, but don't take that statement as a generalization about the person making it. Instead you might say something like, "I had not thought about it that way. I interpreted it differently. I thought...."

• Be Respectful - Even if you might be thinking someone has said something completely idiotic - remember to mind your manners! Everyone's comments and thoughts deserve consideration and a respectful response.

Assign a Discussion Leader:

Assigning a member to be the discussion leader can help keep the structure, flow and fun. The leader can gently steer the conversation back to the book. Typically, the discussion leader is the host for the evening, but some book clubs do assign this to be one person's task.

As your book club grows, this can become a more essential role for the club - as with more people, more chaos can come about.

A designated facilitator for the group allows for steering the conversation back to the book. In the case of unwanted tangents, a good pause in the conversation can be the discussion leaders best friend. See the pause and pounce on it! Ask, "Does anyone have anything more to add about this discussion question. If not, let's move on to the next question..."

If the pause just doesn't seem to be coming and the book lovers of the group are starting to look annoyed. Jump in and remind the group of whatever structure you have already determined. Say something like, "You know, I think we could talk all night about _____! In order to get through the book discussion, do you mind if we resume this topic after?"

When all else fails, you may need to decide if the agreed upon structure for the group still works, and adapt accordingly to the needs and enjoyment of the group.

To please the diversity of any group, our book club hopes to create a fun and structured environment for lovers know ahead of time that indeed there will be a book discussion and when it will take place so they can also enjoy the socializing. And the socializers know they will have time to catch up so they will enjoy the book discussion more.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
A Way To Encourage Equitable Book Club Discussions November 19, 2014 4:21 AM anonymous
Wish List of Books to Read Submitted by Members January 6, 2013 1:17 PM anonymous
The Importance of the RSVP January 17, 2012 1:49 PM anonymous
Guide for reading, That Old Ace in the Hole January 17, 2012 1:55 PM anonymous
Book Club Tips and Golden Rules for Discussions March 23, 2014 4:45 PM anonymous
About Saint Paul Midway Book Club March 28, 2012 6:30 PM anonymous

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