The joy of book clubs

The joy of book clubs
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For book lovers, there’s nothing more exciting than learning someone has read the same book as you – and genuinely wants to hear your thoughts on it. Book clubs are the perfect space for this: to process and share ideas, get into healthy debates and learn from other insightful perspectives. And while you can certainly wing it, anyone who has attended a meeting of an in-person or online book club can testify to how quickly discussions can get derailed. That’s why it’s so important to have book club questions to structure and guide the meeting and to spark the meaningful conversation you came for.

That’s why we’ve compiled the best book club questions to discuss with your fellow bookworms, from reflective questions about characters and plot to analytical thought-provokers about writing style and technique. These questions will keep the conversation lively and rolling, ultimately leaving you inspired and with a deeper understanding of the material.

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How to ensure successful book club meetings

How to ensure successful book club meetings
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The best book club discussions happen when everyone has read the book – easier said than done when our schedules are jam-packed. If you find yourself short on reading time, consider downloading audiobooks so you can listen on your commute, while doing chores or at the gym.

Of course, reading the book is only part of the work. The other part: remembering enough of what you read to participate in the conversation.

Each book is a journey with twists and turns, and it can be easy to forget some of your more specific thoughts by the time the book club meeting rolls around. As a former English major, I’m a huge fan of writing in the margins and highlighting or dog-earring any passages or pages that move me.

If marking books feels sacrilegious to you, consider an e-book or use sticky notes that you can write thoughts on. (Bonus: They double as bookmarks.) If you’re feeling especially organised, use different-coloured sticky notes for different topics so you can flip to specific pages even more quickly.

Finally, it’s important to remember that these discussions can get heated. “Different views on books are inevitable, as is the fact that not everyone will like the book. That’s perfectly OK,” says Denise Borshuk, who’s hosted her own book club for five years. “People have different tastes and lived experiences, and that’s part of what everyone brings to the table.”

Make sure to lay down the rule that all book club members are entitled to their opinions, as long as they are not harmful to others. If a particular discussion starts moving in a direction that is anything less than respectful and compassionate, move on to one of the next book club questions on this list. That way, your book club remains, as Borshuk puts it, “an enjoyable place to get together with others and expand your literary comfort zone!”

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Book club questions for any genre

Book club questions for any genre
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These book club questions are perfect for discussing any and all book genres: everything from science fiction and dystopian books to horror and vampire novels to true-crime books, autobiographies and even self-help books.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate this book?

Did this book remind you of any other books you’ve read?

Did you think the first sentence of the book was effective? Why do you think the author started with that sentence?

What was your favourite quote from this book and why?

Which part of the book resonated emotionally with you?

How do you feel about the book’s pacing? Were there parts you wished the author slowed down and explored more? Were there parts that lagged?

What were some recurring themes or motifs throughout the book?

Why do you think the author chose this particular book title?

If you could pick a different title for the book, what would it be and why?

Do you feel the book cover captures the essence of the book?

If you could pick a different book cover design, what would it be?

Did you find the ending of the book satisfying?

Why do you think the author ended the book with the last sentence? Do you think it was effective?

If you could ask the author one question about the book, what would it be?

What’s a song or album that captures the essence of this book?

Would you read another book by this author? Why or why not?

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Fiction book club questions

Fiction book club questions
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If you’re reading fiction books, whether classics, fantasy books, young adult novels or something in between, you may want to add these questions to your list.

Did you feel the narrator of this book was reliable?

Was there a moment when you disagreed with the protagonist’s decisions? What would you have done differently?

Which character did you feel the most sympathy for?

If this were to happen in real life, would these characters and plot points be realistic?

If you had been a character in the book, what would you have done to influence the outcome?

How does the setting contribute to the story?

Did you guess the ending of the book, and if so, how?

What do you think happens to the characters after the book ends?

Who would you cast in a film adaptation or TV adaptation of this book?

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Historical fiction book club questions

Historical fiction book club questions
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The next time your book club picks a historical fiction title, make sure your list of questions includes these.

How did this book change your perspective on this historical time period or historical event?

Does the book address the social and/or political issues of that era, and if so, how?

Do you see a parallel with today’s social or political climate?

Why do you think the author set this story during this time period?

Do you feel like this book was well-researched? Why or why not?

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Memoir book club questions

Memoir book club questions
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Is your book club reading a memoir this month? Consider these discussion questions during your meeting.

What do you think inspired the author to tell their story?

How did the memoir make you reflect on your own past or future?

Were there parts that you felt the author could have expanded?

Did you feel the author was honest or that the scenes were true to memory?

What are the benefits of this story being told as a memoir instead of a different form of narrative?

Once you’ve narrowed down the best book club questions for this month’s read, you’re ready for a spirited discussion with like-minded bookworms. After that? Well, it’s time to pick your story. Your options are endless – from sad books to feel-good fiction, breezy summer reads to banned books and beyond.

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