My home church started a book club a few years ago, and I love attending. Book people are my people! I’m in my element talking about Christian fiction, yet I’ve learned the hard way that I still need to prepare in order to have or lead a productive discussion.
For example, I’ve been known to forget to check whether the book we’re discussing has questions listed in the back. I’ve gotten to book club, thinking myself prepared because I finished reading and have a list of books for members to vote on for our next read, only to realize the current book doesn’t have questions to guide our discussion. Oops!
Also, we’ve had the pleasure of a couple of authors virtually joining our discussions. Did you know many authors are happy to do so? We love book clubs! One of my favorite author moments was meeting a reader at a book club who had been especially touched by my debut novel. That was three or four years ago, but the interaction still serves as an encouraging reminder about why I write.
So, I love book clubs, and as an author, I have ideas of questions to ask other authors. However, as the queen of awkward silence (Oh, you thought that was you? Ha, well, trust me, there are more than enough crowns to go around!), I’ve found it’s best to go into those with a few pre-planned questions too.
While I think the best discussions will include specifically tailored questions, here is a cheat sheet of general questions to get you going.
Discussion questions for book club members:
- What did you think of the book overall?
- Which character did you relate to most? Why?
- Did your opinions of the main characters change over the course of the novel?
- If you could sit down with one of the characters, who would you choose, and what would you talk about?
- What was your favorite part of the book?
- What themes or takeaways stood out to you?
- Is there an element of the story that you’ve continued thinking about after you finished reading?
- How did the setting impact the story? Why do you think the author chose that setting?
- Did you learn anything new by reading this?
- Have you dealt with a similar situation? What advice would you have given the characters?
Questions for authors:
- What inspired this story?
- How long did it take you to write?
- What did your publishing journey look like for this book?
- What was your favorite part of writing this book?
- What did you learn while writing the book?
- If readers only took one thing away from this story, what would you want that to be?
- Did anything about the story, characters, or writing process surprise you?
- What are you working on now?
- What can we do to support you in your writing?
- How can we connect with you online?
And, if you’re in the market for a few other tips and tricks, here are some things I’ve learned along the line:
- Encourage attendees right in the invite to read the book before the discussion. This leads to richer discussions, and no one has to worry about spilling a spoiler!
- For variety, try using different categories to pick your books (choose from a different genre or type of book each time) or allow a different member to choose your next read.
- Check the author’s website for bonus content like related short stories, downloads, discussion questions, etc.
Hopefully that’s enough to get you going! Although, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say again how much I love book clubs. If your group is looking for a contemporary romance with lots to discuss and an author willing to join the discussion (barring a schedule conflict, of course), I would love for you to consider one of the Rhythms of Redemption Romances! If you choose one of them, reach out to me at emilyconrad (at) sbcglobal (dot) net and I’ll be sure to send some book swag for your group.
Okay, shameless plug over. ;)
Are you in a book club? What suggestions for a great meeting would you add to this list?