Bonnie’s Reading Guides and Tips
I created a book club a few years back, and whilst you can find plenty of discussion questions for book clubs already on the net, I noticed book club discussion questions are usually for certain genres or well known titles. What about the more obscure genres you won’t find in your usual book clubs? Believe it or not these can include well known books, from Speculative Fiction to Classic Literature, which is why I will occasionally post my own reading guides and have come up with some tips for those running their own book clubs.
Book Club Discussions – feel free to use these for your own book club.
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac
- The Chrysalids by John Wyndham - with maps!
- Storm Front by Jim Butcher
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Tips For Making Your Own Reading Guide
Chances are you’ve probably thought of ways to come up with discussions in your group, but sometimes when you’re new to the whole thing (and even later on) it can be overwhelming at times to come up with discussions after everything else so here’s some of the things I have found to help and if you have any I would love it if you would share. I’d post it for everyone else to find with kudos back to you.
- Take notes! – I found this disruptive at first, but eventually I got used to making notes in a separate notebook about what stood out, what might stand out to others, favourite quotes, interesting lines, and all that jazz. Basically anything that stands out, make a note of it.
- Ask your questions – You might not have realised it, but when you’re reading you naturally ask questions of the characters or scenarios or anything going on in that book. Sometimes the book sucks you in so much that you miss it, but if you can learn to pay attention to those questions when they arise, they might just make for good discussion at your own book club or you might be able to adapt it. A lot of the time you will probably find that someone else wanted to know the same thing as well.
- Internet Search – Someone somewhere is probably discussing that book online, even if you can’t find a guide for it. Check out message boards, blogs, groups, anything that will have discussions. Don’t limit internet searches to reading guides or book club questions.
- Quote It – Go online and find articles about the book you’re reading, book blogs are usually a gold mine in this and even newspapers, then take quotes from what they’re reading and bring it up at your book club. Quote something you don’t agree with and do agree with. If you have both you’ll find that someone in that group is going to disagree with something and it might bring about a really healthy discussion about the whys and why nots.
- Share The Load – If you need more help with questions or you feel like your questions are starting to repeat ask your members to bring along a question each, let someone else take over every now and then, take turns, and let your members raise their own issues or mention their own favourite quotes. You could even get them to find their own arguments online and ask them to say why or why don’t they agree with it.
- One more little observation: I’ve noticed when leading my book club, that after the first few meet ups and when we started to get a little more comfortable with each other, I would use far less of the questions I came with. People have a tendency to think along the same lines or close to it when they’re reading something and you’ll find that you won’t need as many questions or points to help the discussion to get going.
Give your members a chance to talk and ask their own questions while still maintaining the group so everyone gets an opportunity to join in and you’ll find that your prepared questions will be a back up most of the time.