Book Clubs have been around for awhile simply because people like to share things they enjoy whether it be a good book, a good recipe, or a helpful hint. For me, leading a book club holds me accountable to actually finish a book and also share, what I believe, are good books.
If you are considering starting a book club I encourage you to do it one time. If you hate it then you can, at least, say you did it once. Last year I led a book club that met monthly to discuss one book a month. If anything, by the end of the year the ladies in that group could say they read twelve books in a year. Which, for some people, is a major accomplishment; as it should be.
Before you begin your book club consider the following things:
1. What book are you going to read? Fiction? Non-Fiction?
2. When are you going to meet? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
3. Where are you going to meet? Home? Church? Community Room? Restaurant?
4. How will you discuss the book? Online? In person? Discussion guide? Open discussion?
For the sake of space I am going to focus on the last question because this seems to be the question I get asked the most: How will you discuss the book?
First, if there is a discussion guide-use it. Typically, these are compiled by the author or the publisher so use them, especially if they are located in the book you are already reading! That’s the easy answer. Now, if you selected a book that does not have discussion questions don’t freak out over it. When I’m reading a book with no questions provided I simply write questions as I’m reading the book, in the margin. For example, if the author is telling a story of something that happened to them an easy question is, “Have you ever had a similar experience? Did you learn anything from that?” If you know you are leading a book club discussion read every page of that book with this question in mind, “Did I learn anything from reading this page or section?” Did anything stick out to you while you were reading? Did you underline or mark anything on that page that might be valuable to someone else? Discuss those things.
I encourage you to come up with your own questions because it makes you a better reader if you are having to think and read at the same. However, also remember the Internet is at your disposal. If you are reading a classic like, “The Hiding Place,” by Corrie Ten Boom you can find TONS of discussion guides online. LitLovers.com is an excellent resource to utilize for book club leaders. When I led a group through “The Hiding Place,” I used a lot of questions from this website.
One thing I do shy away from when leading a book club is asking, “So what did everyone think?” A couple of things can happen. First, no one did the reading so there will be no discussion. Second, EVERYONE shares and you end your time four hours later and everyone is exhausted. There are some groups this is perfectly acceptable and everyone loves it but if you are a first time leader I would not ask this question because you can quickly, without even noticing, lose control of your group.
What are some go-to questions you ask when leading a book club or discussion?