What are Some Book Club Questions?

Dan Cavallari

One of the most rewarding ways to read a book is to form a book club and discuss all aspects of the story with a group full of wide ranging opinions. Facilitating such groups requires a good list of book club questions, or topics for sparking in-depth conversation among the group. While specific book club questions will vary depending on the people in the group and the book chosen to be read, some general guidelines can help you draw up a list of strong questions to get the group thinking and discussing quickly and vibrantly.

In order to come up with good book club questions, a person must read the book carefully.
In order to come up with good book club questions, a person must read the book carefully.

First off, in order to form your book club questions, you must read the book carefully and outline the important plot points, characters, events, and symbols throughout the text. A great question to start with is "Who is your favorite character and why?" This question lends itself to further discussion, such as how that character affects other characters or events. While it is a broad question, it allows each member of the book club to weigh in with his or her opinion, and this may lead to disagreements or subsequent questions among the members.

Before the book club meets, read the book carefully and outline important plot points, characters and events.
Before the book club meets, read the book carefully and outline important plot points, characters and events.

Book club questions often delve into aspects of the story not otherwise apparent upon first read. For example, consider asking about metaphors throughout the story, and if any of these metaphors relate to a motif – or recurring theme. Often writers will focus their narrative on a central idea, and identifying that idea will lead to subsequent book club questions such as, "Why do you think the writer chose to tell his story in this manner?" or, "What clues do you see that lead you to believe [blank] might be a central theme?"

A good book club question is, "If you were writing the story, what would you change?"
A good book club question is, "If you were writing the story, what would you change?"

Book club questions also often lead to much speculation. A good book club question might be, "If you were writing the story, what would you change?" or, "Do you think the ending would have been different if X had changed?" Allowing the readers to speculate how the characters may have developed differently – or how the course of the story may have changed – gives the reader a chance to flex his or her creative muscles as well, creating a bond between the reader and the story. Whatever book club questions you ask, be sure to tailor them specifically to the story you have read, and as a general rule, start with broad questions and then narrow the focus. This will allow for a smooth and interesting meeting full of thoughtful book club questions.

Book club questions often delve into aspects of the story not otherwise apparent upon first read.
Book club questions often delve into aspects of the story not otherwise apparent upon first read.
Book club questions are intended to spur discussion.
Book club questions are intended to spur discussion.

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Discussion Comments

ZsaZsa56

I think the best book club question is "did you like the book." In the end this is all that matters. Even the most serious and prestigious writers will tell you that the primary purpose of reading and writing is to be engaged and entertained. There is pleasure in reading and that is why people do it.

It doesn't matter how many awards or accolades a book has won, if people don't like reading it it cannot be considered a good book.

truman12

I think the best way to get a great book discussion going is for every member to have a chance to contribute. This is easier said than done. Some members are naturally talkative and others like to hang back and listen.

In my book group we have a system. Each member reads the book and writes down a few questions that they would like to put to the group. When we meet in person we go around in a circle and everyone gets a chance to make a comment and ask a question. By making an effort to give everyone a chance to contribute we ensure that no ones viewpoint is left out of the discussion.

whiteplane

It is hard to say what some good book club questions are because every meeting will be different depending on the book. Also, every book club is different depending on the composition of members.

I have been in a book group for almost two years now and every meeting is different. Sometimes we talk about the book for ten minutes and then just chat about our lives. Other times the discussion goes over two hours and we get into heated arguments about the meanings of what we have read. It's always different. Don't try to force it, be natural and organic.

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