Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category
I have written a few posts recommending book club books, and suggesting questions to ask about books during a book club meeting. If you are interested in starting a book club, or already have one, I found a new resource that could help you out! Although possibly a few years outdated due to its 2000 print date, the book The Reader’s Choice: 200 Book Club Favorites is a great companion for any book club!
The book is what I like to call a book club book book and combines 200 recommendations for book club books based on the recom
mendations of numerous book clubs. The recommendations come from over 70 clubs across the country, and feature a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The author provides brief profiles for each book, including a few unique traits of the book and discussion questions for the book club.
Something that I found especially helpful about this book — indexes organize the selections by title and subject matter. Say you want to read a book about the environment, the books lists 13 titles that fit this criteria including River and Ishmael. Plus the introduction features essential for starting up your own book club!
I believe this book could benefit from an update including books released in the last 12 years, but it is still a great book to have to help your book club find some little-known book club treasures!
For those of you who read this blog, you know I am an avid reader. You also know that I have a book club that meets once a month to discuss all sorts of different books we read. Recently, we had a book club meeting where nobody was really sure what to talk about. So, I Googled some great book club discussion questions for any book and it really helped get the ball rolling.
If you have had a similar problem, here are some good questions to ask that will hopefully start some conversation:
1. Did you feel that the book fulfilled your expectations? Were you disappointed?
2. What about the plot? Did it pull you in; or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book?
3. What are some of the book’s them
es? How important were they?
4. Did the book end the way you expected?
5. Would you recommend this book to other readers? To your close friend?
6. Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
7. What did you think the book was about?
8. How would the book have been different if it had taken place in a different time or place?
A few of these questions really seemed to spark a lot of thought and conversation between the members. Sometimes a book just doesn’t lend itself to a lot of discussion, and it’s hard to know where to start. So, if you are going to a book club meeting and you aren’t exactly sure what to say, just print out these questions and bring them along with you!
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire is a cultural phenomenon. Even after inspiring a wildly popular Broadway musical, “Wicked,” it seems there are many who still haven’t read the book. It is a wonderful book for a book club, and my pick for January. The book revolves around the Wicked Witch of the West from the Oz stories by L. Frank Baum. We finally see her side of the story, and it isn’t exactly what you would expect. Maybe the green skinned “witch” Elphaba was just misunderstood?
Now, when it comes to discussing the book, there are many online guides that help with that. Since a major theme in the book is the nature of good and evil, that might be a good place to start the discussion. If that doesn’t take the conversation very far, there are websites with discussion questions that may. The author’s website has some good discussion questions about the book, found here. These questions include:
1. What is the significance of Elphaba’s green skin? What are the rewards of being so different, and what are the drawbacks?
2. Does meeting up with familiar characters and famous fict
ional situations require more patience and effort on the part of the reader, or less?
3. Was Elphaba’s story essentially a tragedy or a triumph?
You could also just discuss what you liked and disliked about the books, what you would rate the book on a scale of 1-10, or whether you are likely to read the three books that follow Wicked in the series (Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and and Out of Oz). Those could even be later book club selections.
When it comes to serving food, there are a lot of opportunities to get creative. You could go with a Glinda and Elphaba theme. Have cotton candy, pink cupcakes, and pink lemonade for Glinda. And serve green m&ms, dark chocolate, and guacamole dip for Elphaba. There are a ton of ways to incorporate that theme. Just use pink, girly, and sparkly food items for Glinda. And dark, green, and more understated foods for Elphaba. The food doesn’t necessarily have to match the theme, but I think it makes it more fun!
And, finally, after reading and discussing the book it would be fun if the entire book club could make plans to see the musical. Since it is so popular, many larger cities have a traveling Broadway group that come through once a year with the musical. The tickets are a little expensive, but the musical is stunning. It might be a few months until it comes close, but it would be a fun night out. Many times the books we choose in my group come out as movies months later. So, even if it isn’t the day of or even the week of your meeting, it is still fun to watch.
That should be all you need to throw a great book club meeting based on the book Wicked. Good luck, and have fun!
A little over a year ago, I decided to put together a small book club. And since, we have tried to get together and discuss one book a month. It’s a great way to spend time with friends. Sometimes, we are a little unsure what book to read or what to discuss at the meetings. In this post, I have put together everything you need to have a book club meeting about the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Water for Elephants is a wildly popular book club selection. A ninety-year old man recalls his time with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth during the Great Depression. A wonderful book for animal lovers, romance lovers, and those who just love a good story.
First and foremost, you will need members. Facebook is a great resource for this. It allows you to create events, and invite friends. Don’t have facebook? (I don’t blame you!) There are a ton of other ways to gather up members. Meetup.com is a great place to go to start a community-wide book club. If you are looking for something a little more intimate, Evite.com has invitations you can email to those you wish to invite.
Now that your invitations are sent out, the next step is to decide on some overall discussion for the group. (After you’ve read the book, of course!) It’s possible that once you start discussing you’ll find the conversation keeps itself afloat. But, especially at a first meeting, it might be helpful to have a few initial discussion questions at the ready. ReadingGroupGuides.com has a wonderful list of discussion questions for this book. Some of the most thought- and discussion-provoking questions (without giving away too much of the story) being:
1. What are the roles and importance of faithfulness and loyalty in Water for Elephants?
2. In what ways does Gruen contrast the antagonisms and cruelties of circus life with the equally impressive loyalties and instances of caring?
3. In the words of one reviewer, Water for Elephants “explores . . . the pathetic grandeur of the Depression-era circus.” In what ways and to what extent do the words “pathetic grandeur” describe the world that Gruen creates in her novel?
It wouldn’t be a book club meeting without food! And since Water for Elephants is set in a circus, the menu practically creates itself! Cotton candy, peanuts, funnel cakes, root beer floats, popcorn, corn dogs, hot dogs. The possibilities are practically endless. If they sell it at a circus or fair, it’s fair game (no pun intended)! Think lots of fried, sugary foods. (I never said it would be healthy!)
Lastly, since (even with the most diligent planning) many book club meetings tend to wind down after 45 minutes or so, it might be a good idea to rent the movie version starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Afterward, you can discuss differences between the movie and the book, and how you felt about the choices made regarding costume and characters.
And there you have a book club meeting in a blog post! Of course, there are still some things you’ll have to decide — where to host the gathering, what time (I find that Sunday afternoon tends to be a good time/day for many people), and how long to plan for. But these are all peripheral details that can be decided on at a later point. The most important detail is that you find people interested and willing to participate. And maybe you should read the book, too.