Book Club Discussion Questions

Tips for taking part in a book discussion:

1. Avoid the words “like” and “dislike”. They aren’t helpful in moving discussions forward, and can make others feel defensive. Instead, talk about your experience; how you felt as you read the book.

2. Support your views. Use specific passages from the book as evidence for your ideas. This is a literary analysis technique called “close reading”.

3. Take notes as you read. Jot down particularly interesting passages: something that strikes you or, that you don’t understand. Take your notes to the meeting.

Questions for Fiction:

1. How do you think the title relates to the story?

2. How did you experience the book? Were you immediately drawn into the story-or did it take a while?

3. Do you find the characters convincing: Are they believable: Are they fully developed as complex human beings- or were they one-dimensional?

4. What motivates different character’s actions? Do you think those actions are justified or ethical?

5. Is the plot well developed? Is it believable: Do you feel manipulated along the way, or do plot events unfold naturally, organically? What is the arc of the story? How did you experience the ending? Was it wrapped up or unresolved?

6. Can you pick out a passage that strikes you as particularly meaningful (in a negative or positive way)?

7. Did you learn something new? Did the story broaden your perspective about a personal or societal issue? Perhaps about another culture in another country or an ethnic/regional culture in your own country?

Questions for Non-Fiction:

1. Does the book offer a central idea or premise? What are the problems or issues raised? Are they personal, spiritual, societal, global, political, economic, medical, scientific?

2. Do the issues affect your life? How so- directly, on al daily basis, or more generally? Now, or sometime in the future?

3. What evidence does the author give to support the book’s ideas? How does he/she use personal observations? Facts? Statistics? Opinions? Historical documents: Scientific research? Quotations from authorities? Is the evidence convincing or relevant? Does it come from authoritative sources? Is it speculative?

4. What kind of language does the author use? Is it objective and dispassionate? Or passionate and earnest?

5. Does the author-or can you-offer solutions to the issues raised in the book? Who would implement those solutions? How probable is success?

6. Can you point to specific passages that struck you personally?

7. Did you learn something new? Did it broaden your perspective about a personal or societal issue? Perhaps about another culture in another country or an ethnic/regional culture in your own country?