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Discussion Points for Book Clubs

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 16 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Discussion Points For Book Clubs

One of the main aims of book clubs is to provide a forum for book lovers to talk about books they have recently read or all-time favourites; to discuss and compare interpretations and opinions, and to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the books through a communal analysis of characters, themes, setting, plot and background.

However, it can sometimes be hard to get a good, stimulating discussion going, no matter how good the book may be and no matter how keen members are. This is where having a list of good discussion points can be very helpful in keeping things focused and interesting, while still moving the discussion forward.

Here are some general discussion points which work well for a variety of novels:

Themes

- Did the book have any particular themes? - How were the themes highlighted? - Do you agree with the author’s take on the themes?- Do the themes blend well together?- Do the themes arise naturally out of the story or did they seem to be contrived?

Setting

- What was different or unique about the story’s setting?- Did the setting enhance or detract from the story?

Characters

- Were the characters realistic – could you relate to them? E.g. do they speak in the right voice for their age group or the time period of the novel?- Did you empathise with the character sand their plight?- Do the characters evolve or change in the course of the novel? Were the changes believable?

Personal Impression

- Did the book affect you in a personal way? Did you relate to the characters or circumstances on a personal level?- Did the book make you question your views on certain topics? Did you revise any opinions?- Did you gain a new awareness or a better understanding of certain topics? – - What sort of person do you think would enjoy this book?- Did you like the book’s cover design – do you think it suited the book? - Is this book a “keeper”? Would you read it again?

Style

- What do you like or dislike about the author’s style? - Would you class the style as lyrical, descriptive, objective or minimalist? - Do you think the story could have been told better if it was written from a different perspective (e.g.. first person narrative Vs third person Vs multiple viewpoints? - Did the author use imagery and symbolism? - Do you think that any literary devices used enhanced the book or were they just distracting?

Genre

- Could this book classified in a ‘genre’?- If so, does it challenge the genre stereotypes in any way?

Time

- What kind of historical time period was the story set in? Was it a realistic image of the past? - How do you think you would have behaved if you had been faced with those issues, in those times? - Do you feel the book has dated well? - If the time period is set in the future, was the book’s vision of the future credible? - Is it an optimistic or pessimistic vision of the future?

Reviews

- Do you agree with the reviews of the book? - Did you think it lived up to positive reviews or challenged negative ones?

Author

- Does the story reflect the author’s own life? Is the story autobiographical in any way?- Is the book better because the author was able to draw on his own experiences?

Lastly, remember that a few good discussion points is better than trying to cover every aspect of a book. Half a dozen discussion topics will work very nicely for most meetings and possibly even less if all members are enthusiastically discussing one point – there is no need to rush on to the next topic, just to try and cover everything on your list!

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