Handy hints at guiding the meeting back to the books and away from the nibbles and drinks.
Easy tactics for retaining an enjoyable atmosphere that includes discussion of your text… Start your book club meeting as it means to go on; bringing books and best friends together.
(Scroll staright down for study guide questions – simply print them and take them to your next book club meeting.)
INTRODUCTION – book club study guide for grown ups!
It’s not always easy to bring the book back into a book club… How often do these literary gatherings descend into a coffee and cake clubs? Or even as I suspect in most cases, friendly gossip and wine club?
Now this is no bad thing in itself – I’ve known many Jane Austen discussions vastly improved by homemade sugar hits, and fermented fruit never hurt the lucidity of a debate about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Who hasn’t appreciated the messed up world of an Iain Banks novel more after a mind expanding glass or two?
But somehow it’s not always easy bringing the two together at the start. Chocolate brownies and Tolstoy probably weren’t natural bed fellows back in the day, (though most genius seems to owe a little to the bottle…) but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together now.
Following requests from various friends in book clubs, here are some tips on marrying baking and beverages with a proper and rewarding exploration of your book club’s chosen texts.
Image via Wikipedia
How to start your book club meetings off? What is the best way into discussing your favorite books with your best friends? How often does your book club find it has read the most wonderful book but doesn’t know what to do with it? And why is it easier to focus more on the wine and chats than the literature? Is it hard to know where to start and how to find your way in to exploring a novel?
Sometimes we all read books that move us greatly – we love them, hate them, don’t get them – but it isn’t always easy to work out why. A book club with friends is a great place to puzzle this out, but sometimes in is scary or intimidating or just too hard break into how to do this!
Just follow these easy headed questions for a rip roaring success of a book club…
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The very first thing to do is to zip through the group and find out what the book’s about? Loosely what happens? Who likes it? Who didn’t? What kind of book is it? What genre? Does it have any broader message?
Keep it brief at this point – once everyone has given an initial opinion it’s time to break it down and look more closely at the elements of the book that have given you those early opinions. Here’s how to start!
Next look at setting – where, when and why?
1. Where is the action set? Is this convincingly created?
2. When is it set? How do you know that? Do you get a convincing flavor of the time and place?
3. Why do you think it’s set then and there?
4. Is there a good reason for placing the action thus? What affect does it have on the story and the reader?
5. Is it convincingly created? How? Why do you believe it?
6. Do the people and culture come to life?
What is going on – discuss what you think happened in the book, quite often you’ll find you’ve all interpreted something slightly different into the events of the book.
1. What actually happens?
2. In what order? Is it chronological or episodic?
3. What affect does that have?
4. Does the author pull it off? Is it believable or farfetched?
5. How does that make you react?
6. Is the action satisfying? Is it how you wanted events to pan out?
7. Which events particularly stood out? Why?
8. Were there any turning points which might have turned the story another way?
Who’s in the book?!
1. Who is this book about? Are you sure?
2. Are the main characters convincing? Are they consistent? Do they feel real? Are they meant to?
3. Are they likeable? Provoking? Are they similar to anyone else?
4. How are they created? What’s distinctive about them? What makes them?
5. Is the action significantly affected by any one character and his/her personality or actions?
6. Why do you think they behave in a certain way? What’s made them who they are?
7. And the minor characters? Are any of those essential for key action or moments?
8. How are the minor characters used and to what affect?
9. How do you feel about the people/things in the book? Who did you warm to or dislike?
10. Can we trust them? Are they reliable?
Start by looking at the book and its “voice.” This is the tone it is written in, the character or voice that it is speaking through. In other words, start by thinking Voice – and ask who is telling the story?
1. Is this familiar? What’s unusual about it?
2. How does it make you feel? What affect does it have?
3. Where else is this device used in literature?
4. If it was a different kind of voice would you feel different about the book? How would that alter if it was a third person narration, voice of omniscient author, or of the child looking back, the father, the mother etc?
5. Did you find it engaging? Did it work for you?
6. Why does author use this voice to tell the story?
Again this relates to voice, what kind of language seeps through the book?
1. What is the language like?
2. Is it consistent? Why? How does this affect the book?
3. What stood out to you?
4. Does it remind you of any other novels?
5. Why do you think it’s been formed like this?
This relates a bit to plot – how and when are things happening.
1. Is the story set out chronologically? Does the plot jump around?
2. Is it varied in time, in place, in voice, in style or tone or device?
3. What does this do to the story?
4. Why do you think it’s been chosen?
5. Is it affective?
6. Does it fit into a particular genre of book?
7. Does it remind you of any other books you have read? How do they compare?
Now ask yourselves again:
What’s the book about? – Are you sure?
What happens? – Are you still sure?
Why do you think the author wanted to write this book?
Why do you think the author wanted to write it in this way?
Do you think the author is trying to say anything or just write a great engaging read?
Did it work for you?
How has it made you feel?
Simples!! Hours of interesting and easy ways to get your wine clubs back into book clubs.