Choosing which books to read is an important task for book club members. Most book clubs look for engaging stories that promote group discussion. But while many books engage readers, they don’t all contain serious themes, complex characters, and other elements that make them discussable. Still, a “light” read now and then can be a refreshing choice for book clubs. And with the right questions, light books can actually encourage some of the deepest conversations yet.
So how do you discuss a book that, on the surface, doesn’t lend itself to discussion? Here are eight ideas from Brian Jedwab to get you started:
Talk about how the book reminds you of other books your group has read. Do any of the characters resemble characters from a different, deeper story? Does the plot, in a simpler way, mirror the story line of another novel? Compare how different authors handle these similarities.
Focus on a particular chapter or part of the book that has the most depth or that was particularly effective for you as a reader. Then discuss why you liked that chapter, how it enhanced the story, and whether you would change anything about it.
Do a character analysis of a character in the book that seems the most multidimensional or interesting. What makes him or her so intriguing? How is he or she different from the other characters? Who might play this character if the book becomes a movie?
Discuss the author. Do some research before the book club meeting, and get to know the book’s author. Gather information from his or her website or the publisher, including interviews, a biography, and photos. Then share notes about the author at your meeting.
Consider what formula makes this book so readable, even if there isn’t much to discuss. Is it the author’s style, language, or pacing? Did dialogue play a factor? Was the ending as satisfying as the rest of the book? What other qualities about the book kept you engaged?
Comment on the book’s flaws. Does the story contain some obvious (or not so obvious) inconsistencies? Maybe certain parts of the book made you roll your eyes. If so, do you think the author could have avoided those flaws without ruining the reading experience?
Take turns discussing how the book relates to your life. Do you see yourself in any of the character roles? Think about the conflicts in the story and whether you have experienced anything similar. Does the book offer any suggestions for dealing with your own problems?
Think about a serious issue in the book that has relevance today, then talk about it. Even fluffy romance novels contain serious issues—war, crime, breakups, family life, and women’s issues, for example. Debate whether the topic was portrayed realistically in the book.
When it comes to book club selections, don’t discount a light read. Sometimes, it’s just what a book club needs—for fun and a fulfilling discussion.
The opinions above are solely those of Brian Jedwab.