Reading a Book for Discussion
Reading a book to discuss it is different from reading for pleasure.
Ask yourself questions, read carefully, and imagine yourself in the story. Think about the style and structure of the book. Does it have personal meaning for you?
- Make notes and mark pages as you go. This may slow your reading, but saves time searching for key passages later.
- Ask tough questions of yourself and the book.
- Analyze themes. What is the author trying to say in the book?
- Get to know the characters. Consider their faults and motives and what it would be like to know them.
- Notice the book's structure. Do the chapters begin with quotes? How many people tell the story? Is the book written in flashbacks? Does the order make sense to you?
- Compare to other books and authors. Themes often run through an author's works. Comparing one author's book with another's can help you decide how you feel about the book.
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Leading the Discussion
- Have 10-15 open-ended questions that can't be answered "yes" or "no." Or ask each group member to bring one discussion question.
- Let the discussion flow naturally.
- Push members beyond "I just didn't like it" statements. Ask them to describe why a book was unappealing. Books that inspire strong reactions - positive and negative - lead to some of the best discussions.
- Balance the discussion between personal thoughts and responses to the book. Groups that spend a lot of time reminiscing or sharing personal reflections are no longer book discussion groups.
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