Monday, October 19, 2009

Making Up Book Club Questions: A How-To Guide

I don't think I have yet mentioned tha
t the Vancouver Public Library is putting together a book club set of Finding Creatures & Other Stories. They've asked for a number of materials and one is a set of book club questions. Fair enough. I am now at work on that.

Searching around on the net for tips o
n how to organize my set of questions, I found a number of useful sites. I offer some of their guidelines below.

Some Typical Discussion Questions

While reading a book, a club member should reflect on these questions, and research other supplementary materials. This is mostimportant if you are leading the book discussion.

  • Did you like the book? If you have read any of the author's other books, how does this compare?
  • What is this book's message?
  • How did you feel about the characters? Whom did you like or not like and why?
  • What did you think of the ending?
  • In a movie version, who would play what parts?
  • How did you feel when the character did or said....How do you think the character felt when she did or said...?
  • If questions...e.g. If the characters had done this instea d, how would the story have changed?
  • What do book reviews say about this book or more generally the author, and her past works?
  • What did you think of the plot line development? How credible did the author make it?
  • What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
  • How authentic is the culture or era represented in the book?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this? What is her most important message?
  • How do you think the main character's point of view is similar or different from the author's point of view or background?
  • What is the author's background (her style, stature and focus)?
  • How does the setting figure as a character in the story?
  • Are the characters' actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?
  • Is there any moral responsibility that was abdicated?
  • Are there any symbols that may have cultural, political or religious reference? e.g. flag, tree, rose.
  • What type of vision does the author use with her word choice? Is it optimistic, pessimistic, prophetic, cautionary, humourous, satirical, venomous, cathartic?
  • What effects do the events (time, natio nality, physicality) have on the character's self or personality?

Remember to check the publisher's website for your book of choice. Usually a publisher will include some questions specific to a book.

General Book Club Questions for Study and Discussion

By Esther Lombardi,

In your book club, you may be reading books on a wide variety of topics. Here are a few questions for study and discussion. These questions are designed to make you think about the book(s). Take a look...

  • What did you think the book was about?
  • Did you feel that the book fulfilled your expectations? Were you disappointed?
  • Did the author seem to appear in the book? How? Why? Was the presence of the author disruptive? Or did it seem appropriate/fitting?
  • Did you enjoy the book? Why? Why not?
  • How did the book compare to other books by the author (or other books in the same genre)?
  • What about the plot? Did it pull you in; or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book?
  • How realistic was the characterization? Would you want to meet any of the characters? Did you like them? Hate them?
  • Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  • If one (or more) of the characters made a choice that had moral implications, would you have made the same decision? Why? Why not?
  • How does the setting figure into the book? Is the setting a character? Does it come to life? Did you feel you were experiencing the time and place in which the book was set?
  • How would the book have been different if it had taken place in a different time or place?
  • What are some of the book's themes? How important were they?
  • How are the book's images symbolically significant? Do the images help to develop the plot, or help to define characters?
  • Did the book end the way you expected?
  • Would you recommend this book to other readers? To your close friend?

Guide Materials:

Number of Pages

-About the Book
-One sentence about the book (25 words or less) --- To be included with title listing in the "New Guides" section of the homepage
-Discussion Questions
-Critical Praise
-Excerpt (with copyright information)
-Author Bio
-Author Interview (if available)
-Link to one website (author's website or publisher's website)

Please indicate up to three genres where you would like your guide to be listed:

  • African-American Interest
  • Award Winners
  • Biography
  • Books Into Movies
  • Christian
  • Classics
  • Current Events & Politics
  • Fiction
  • Foreign
  • Gay and Lesbian Interest
  • Historical Fiction
  • History
  • Jewish Interest
  • Literary Fiction
  • Mystery & Thriller
  • Memoir
  • Nonfiction
  • Oprah (Must be an Oprah Book Club Selection to be added here)
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Romance
  • Sci Fi and Fantasy
  • Self-Help and Psychology
  • Short Stories
  • Women's Interest

For 100$ they will list your reading guide on their site.

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