Are you Book Club ready?

book-club

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your book selected by a book club?

Well, yeah.

The main thing that makes a book “book club ready” is the presence of questions that invite discussion. For each of my books, I have 10 questions that I compiled specifically around the themes, characters, and reader experience of the book.

Book club questions (also called Discussion Guides) are common in many academic books and are often located at the ends of chapters or in the back matter. When it comes to general fiction, placing your book club questions in the back matter is the best way to get them noticed, but not the only way. You can also direct readers to your website where a separate page or pretty pdf is linked to your book’s info.

At the end of this post is a list of potential book club questions that you can customize for your book. I collected these over the years from multiple sources and separated them by topic (ie. characters, setting, themes). When compiling my lists, I try to mix it up so that book club participants have a variety of topics to choose from.

For example, here are the 10 questions for The Bone Wall. Some questions were altered to specifically fit the book, but they’re all derived from the generic list.

Book Club Questions – The Bone Wall

  1. the-bone-wall-ebookSeveral cultures occur in the book – Heaven, the Riverwalkers, the Colony, and the Fortress. Did the cultures feel authentic? Could you see such cultures rising in a post-apocalyptic world?
  2. What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
  3. Why do you think the author wrote this? What is this book’s message?
  4. Two characters tell the story alternating chapters. How did this structure work for you? Were both narrators interesting to read or did you prefer one over the other?
  5. How realistic was the characterization? Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  6. What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
  7. Rimma and Angel see themselves as twins. What do you think about their relationship? What was the real relationship between them?
  8. Rimma made a number of choices, good and bad. What choices were the most significant in bringing about the conclusion? Would you have made some of the same choices as she?
  9. How did the book affect you? Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way?
  10. Are you satisfied with the ending? Why or why not?

Book Club Generic Questions

Setting

  • What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or detract from the story?
  • How does the setting figure as a character in the story?
  • How authentic is the culture or era represented in the book?
  • How would the book have been different if it had taken place in a different time or place?
  • Is the setting of the story important to the book? In what ways?
  • If it’s set in the past, is this a period you know anything about? Would you have liked to live in this time? What would be the advantages/disadvantages?
  • If set in the future – do you think it’s a credible view of the future? Is it one that you’d wish on future generations?
  • If it’s set in the current time, what current events, if any, color the story?
  • Do the location and environment of the book color the telling of the story or are they merely a backdrop? Does the location change during the book or stay the same? If it changes, does this have any effect on the central characters?

Themes

  • What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
  • In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s worldview?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this? What is this book’s message?
  • What are some of the book’s themes? How important were they?

Character Realism

  • Who are the key characters? Do one or more of the characters tell the story? If so, how do their own circumstances color the telling?
  • How realistic was the characterization? Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  • Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
  • Who was your favorite character? Why? Would you want to meet him or her?
  • Who was your least favorite character?
  • If questions…e.g. If the characters had done this instead, how would the story have changed?
  • Think about one of the minor characters in the story. Why did the author include him/her?
  • What effects do the events  (crisis, nationality, culture) have on the character’s self or personality?

Character Choices

  • What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
  • How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
  • Are any of the characters’ actions troubling? How would you act in a similar situation? Do their experiences cause them to grow? If so, how?
  • Are the characters’ actions the result of free will or of destiny?
  • Is there any moral responsibility that was abdicated?

Construction

  • What did you think of the plot line development? How credible did the author make it?
  • Are there any symbols that may have cultural, political, or religious reference?
  • How are the book’s images symbolically significant? Do the images help to develop the plot, or help to define characters?
  • What type of tone does the author create with his or her world choices? Is it optimistic, pessimistic, prophetic, cautionary, humorous, satirical, venomous, cathartic?
  • Did the author seem to appear in the book? How? Why? Was the presence of the author disruptive? Or did it seem appropriate/fitting?

Reactions to the Book

  • How did the book affect you? Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way?
  • Did the book lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
  • Did the book expand your range of experience or challenge your assumptions?
  • Did you feel that the book fulfilled your expectations?
  • Are you satisfied with the ending? Why or why not?

Other Questions

  • If this book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the title roles?
  • What do you think will happen to the characters beyond the end of the book?
  • Have you read other similar books? Perhaps books by the same author or with a similar theme, or set in the same time period?

I hope these are helpful. Have fun getting your books ready for the next Book Club.

115 thoughts on “Are you Book Club ready?

  1. Excellent Idea. I’ve often wondered about this, whether or not it would be productive to include something along these lines. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this on the go last week and loved it. I’ve always liked the idea of creating discussion for a book (whether a book club or classroom setting). These are fantastic questions. I’ve bookmarked the post. Thank you for sharing! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. bamauthor says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas….thinking about how I could adapt the book club idea to a classroom discussion of my nonfiction book series.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely! I think the idea of “discussion guides” works well with non-fiction. The questions will be different, but it’s worth the effort. Certainly won’t hurt. I’m glad this was helpful. 🙂

      Like

  4. reocochran says:

    Wow!! This is so generous of you to feature open ended questions which could be tailored to each book.
    Diana, I will purchase your book set after February. It is not yet purchased at my library.
    I am in a book club of two members, my boyfriend and I are reading Syfy book set. He chose it from a used bookstore, then realized the first of the trilogy isn’t easy to find. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • This was pretty easy to gather, Robin. Most of the questions are from libraries. My new book series is coming out in March, and I’d be happy to send it to you, my friend :-D.

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        Well, Diana, I would send you a Visa details or check # to cover your books. Your offer is most kind. 🙂
        When I bought Luanne Castle’s “Doll God,” it was due to her promotion of the animal shelter. Then I wrote up my review of her poetry on my blog.
        I am especially excited about your updated cover artwork! 😀
        I have money but I usually worry more about my apt space, not cost! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. These are great, lots of good ideas. I think attending a couple of book group meetings has been my favorite part of book promotion, so much fun to listen in on what readers think of your own book. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    D. Wallace Peach of ‘Myths of the Mirror” provides us with a blog post to find out if our book is book club-ready. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. tpolen says:

    You really put a lot of thought into these and they would have been wonderful to have with a novel when my now defunct book club was meeting. More about the book and less about the food and drinks!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Diana, I’m absolutely terrified of the prospect! o_O But I’ve bookmarked this post because I do very much like the questions. Mega hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nothing to be terrified of, Teagan. They’re easy to pull together. You don’t even have to modify many of them. And you can stick them on your website if the back of the book is too intimidating. 😀 Glad you’re intrigued, though! **Mega Hugs**

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Both thorough and interesting, Diana. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. When you have your memoir done, I hope you consider having a discussion guide. It would be interesting for readers to reflect on your life and their similar or different experiences. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read an interesting blog about writing a memoir as fiction and thereby adding extras to make it more interesting. I could add humor to it and fictionalize a bit. Hemingway wrote parts of his life by fictionalizing. I may take out the chapters on the animal pets we had and that would make a small book. They were kind of funny anyway like the time my mother took the goldfish and let it loose in the lake so it could find a friend because they thought it was lonely.She said it did and they swam off together. 😀 — Suzanne

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s so interesting, Suzanne. I never thought of embellishing a memoir, but so much of it is perception and memory anyway, and I imagine those skew our accounts anyway. Funny story about the goldfish. I think those delightful details are what make reading a memoir so fun. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Purpleanais says:

    I’m one of those weird people who always reads the book club questions when I finish a book…even though I’m not part of a book club 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. tales2inspire says:

    A wonderful post, thought provoking and most helpful. It would be a small step for readers who consider those back-of-book questions to then write and post an Amazon review. You have just given me a new “Author Helping Authors” idea. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hadn’t thought of that! Another great reason to offer the questions at the back of the book. It’s really easy to pull together 10 questions from the list, and it certainly can’t hurt. Thanks for the visit and idea! 🙂

      Like

  12. These are great! One of my writing sisters has a list of book group questions in the back of her book, but she writes women’s fiction, so I think the book lends itself to book groups to begin with. I will, however, mark this page. I love the idea of having a book club pick my book to read, and this list is a good thing to have on hand. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s one of those things that’s easy and quick to do, Julie, so why not? Even if you don’t have them in your book, having them accessible on your website also works. Just another way to entice readers 😀

      Like

  13. inesephoto says:

    Brilliant post, Diana, a great set of questions to start with. I especially value the questions for The Bone Wall, because you probably asked yourself the same questions when writing the book.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Nurse Kelly says:

    Great ideas. You are always so generous with your readers. I have had a few book clubs at my home over the years, but with self-help books that came with study guides. As the moderator, I often felt more like a therapist, and it wasn’t always easy to steer people back on track with the discussion topics! But I greatly enjoyed the experiences (pre-blogging life two years ago this month!)

    Liked by 2 people

  15. There is so much more to the whole process of writing a book than I ever imagined! :-)_

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jemima Pett says:

    Very useful, thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, even though I’m not member of a book club I do enjoy reading the discussion guide questions at the end of a novel – not only does it bring the book back to life again, reliving it, it also acts as a prompt for closer reflection. These are terrific questions here and I’m thinking all writers should have them up on a wall whilst writing as a guide for the novel writing process! Have a great weekend! 😀♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit, Annika 🙂 I like the questions too, and most fiction books don’t have them. You’re right that they are also good questions for a writer to ask in process of pulling together a book! Have a great weekend and happy writing 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Tina Frisco says:

    This took me back to my high school and college days, Diana. I never gave this a second thought as an author, but what a fabulous idea. Thanks so much for posting 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the visit, Tina. I’ve been in book clubs where someone asks, “what did you think?” But it’s even more fun if there are guided questions as thought-starters. Having questions prepared is a great way to approach book clubs in your genre too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for this informative list of ideas for book club lists. I’d never knew about this and am now bookmarking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have never been part of a book club, Diana, but they sound like a great deal of fun. You have done some wonderful and careful work that is sure to enhance the experience for those who want to use your books. I’m amazed at all you do 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m really rather lazy, Lana. I did my first discussion guide when book club asked if I had one. “Of course,” I said, confidently and then panicked and scrambled. Ha ha. The list makes it really easy. Thanks for the visit!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I thought it looked like some of those lesson plans that I used to do. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because I never became a “real” English teacher, so I will go with laugh. You are far from lazy, my friend….happy writing!

        Liked by 2 people

  21. What a fascinating idea, Diana! You know, for all the blogs and books I’ve read on the subject of writing/publishing, I’ve never heard anyone recommend including a Discussion Guide with their novel! I swear, I’m totally going to do that now! It’s a great idea in that not only is it “book-club bait,” but it at very least provokes the reader to think about some of the deeper thematic implications of what they’ve just read — if even informally — rather than immediately shelving the novel and reaching for the next one. One of the reasons I always leave a through review of anything I’ve read on my Goodreads profile is because I want to make sure I’ve really given the material due consideration, even — especially — if I didn’t enjoy it. (Makes me a better analyst and, in turn, a better writer.) With the glut of media the Digital Age has deluged us with, I think we need to make a conscious effort to consume less, but pay more attention to the media we do read/view. I think a Discussion Guide at the end of a novel is a great way to remind the reader that he needn’t be in any rush to move on to the next thing, but that it’s worth his time to at least spend a few minutes mulling over what he just spent a dozen hours (give or take) reading. Excellent idea — thank you for suggesting it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back of the book is the best place, Sean, and only one page doesn’t take much space. The list of ready questions might make the difference when a book club member is thinking of recommending a book to their group. And it’s easy to pull 10 questions together. My favorite books, including fiction, are those that make me think, and you’re right that even for our own reflection, questions can provoke some reflection that may not otherwise occur. I like your thoughts on deepening our attention regarding the media we consume. Thanks for the visit and comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Micki Peluso says:

    Great post. I reblogged it on mallie1024@wordpress.com. I spend a lot of time searching for good book clubs. This was quite informative and I think you for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Micki Peluso says:

    Reblogged this on mallie1025 and commented:
    Wonderful info source

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I can only imagine what book club questions would look like if I ever published a cook book.

    1. What is your favorite recipe, and why? Did you actually make it?
    2. The author told family, vacation, and accident stories throughout the book. Did this make you enjoy the book more or did it detract from the recipes?
    3. Did you think more or less pictures were needed? What did you think of the quality of the photos?

    😀

    p.s. this is a valuable guide for all your author friends!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Or an suggested questions for an ADD Coaching book:
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~

      1. Which assumptions of the uniformed have cause you the most distress? How did you respond? How did you attempt to quiet your inner monologue and move on? Did it work?

      2. Could you relate to the client stories? Which one(s) were most like the stories you could tell? What about the stories told from the perspective of parents of ADD kids?

      3. Did the medication sections change your views in any way? How?

      4. Did anybody get through the entire book? Why not? 🙂
      — etc. and more–

      LOVED this post, btw. I have recently agreed to be part of a book club and will suggest we use many of these as we discuss.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
      – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Those are actually good questions, Kathryn, ha ha! I once belonged to a dinner party club. We would meet at someone’s house every month and subject them to our cooking. It was always a fun time to try new recipes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Val Boyko says:

    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing this wisdom Diana 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Al Lane says:

    I’d never considered this… thanks for sharing D! It’s a useful way to test your plot/story, before it gets to the real book club stage

    Liked by 1 person

  27. balroop2013 says:

    That is a big list Diana! I can understand the kind of hard work and thoughtful process that must have gone into this list! It took me down the memory lane…we used to read and discuss questions at the back of the book as students. Thanks for the reminders and inspiration. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Reblogged this on Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author and commented:
    Authors: Don’t miss this! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thanks so much, Diana! Reblogging this fabulous post. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Steven Baird says:

    What a great list, Diana. The questions are generic enough to use for any book, and yet specific enough for closer examination of theme, characters, settings, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. djb333 says:

    Excellent ideas for engaging with readers, and helping readers engage with books. Thank you for creating and sharing these examples. This list would be useful to public library reader outreach programmers as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I pulled some of these questions from library lists 🙂 Even our little library in town is a great resource for readers. The nice thing about Discussion Guides for authors is they’re easy to pull together and are just one more way to engage with readers 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Susanne says:

    I enjoy reading the book club questions at the end of books I’ve read as they give me an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve read and sometimes missed. They definitely help me appreciate the book on a deeper level. I am NOT a book club person, though. Hate the whole concept in all honesty. Reminds me too much of school!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha. I’ve been in a couple books clubs and they were mostly just fun, food, social events with some book discussion 🙂 I wouldn’t like them if they were like school either! Great idea to read the questions just for a bit of reflection on a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Honestly, the idea of book clubs never entered my mind. Great information here. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. These are fascinating, Diana. I’ve never thought about these. What a great idea.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. I was on a book review site and it nearly killed me. I hated it. But questions like that would have made it much better.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is very helpful, thank you! My book has been discussed by a couple book clubs, but I didn’t think to have questions ready. I’ve never thought about it for thrillers, but even those could have elements up for discussion.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. So interesting to me to outline these questions. I haven’t been part of a book club for quite a while now. But I wonder…do questions/solutions ever come up with a reader that you didn’t intend, or maybe didn’t see yourself ??? Fascinating, D. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Erik says:

    I love that you do this. And, honestly, it’s no surprise: you are both thorough and thoughtful.

    My book The Best Advice So Far lends itself to such questions, and I included “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” as an Appendix, with 3 to 7 questions for every chapter.

    Where book clubs are concerned, I’ve gotten really positive feedback about having included those. But the most fun I’ve had with book clubs is when someone asks if I’ll visit the group after the reading. It’s amazing what that does toward encouraging people to actually read the book. And the times I’ve been able to be the “guest author” have always been loads of fun, as well as being meaningful times for people to ask live questions, as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I remember the questions in your book, Erik, and they were lovely to reflect on. With personal growth books, they make perfect sense. Visiting book clubs is a hoot, isn’t it? I’ve had so much fun connecting with readers. I’ve noticed that there are a lot more questions about the writing process in face to face meet and greets. Thanks for the visit!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Erik says:

        With my, I find that in groups “discussing the book,” it really turns into people feeling safe to go deep. It’s incredible, that people who’ve been in a book club with one another perhaps for years will suddenly feel safe enough to talk about divorce, death of children, fear of aging and other things they hadn’t mentioned to the group previously. So wonderful to hear people exclaim, “Oh, you too? I had no idea. I thought I was the only one!”

        Liked by 2 people

  39. Phil Ryan says:

    Interesting post, D, it took me back to my school days. We studied some books I just couldn’t get into, The Return of the Native, springs to mind and others that were okay, like The Go Between and Lord of the Flies. I’ve successfully managed to erase most of my school days from my memory (I wasn’t a great student) but I do remember a brief discussion along the lines of, does the author just write his/her story and we find the symbolism and meanings or do they plan it all in advance. Your post made me chuckle at the former idea backers. : )

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can relate, Phil. Ha ha. I remember those discussions and not having the slightest clue what the “theme” of the book was. It was just a boring book! Lol. I wish my school had just taught a love of reading and skipped all the analysis. I almost didn’t become a reader!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh wow! I was an excellent student, and I still sat through a lot of those discussions feeling like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It all seemed like everyone was nodding and “mm-hmm”-ing and shooting out lofty sounding ideas with pensive looks on their faces … and not a one of them really knew diddly because there was no diddly to know.

      Liked by 2 people

  40. Allie P. says:

    I was fortunate enough to be picked up once by a book club, as well as be invited to visit their club for a meet and greet. It was a great experience, and they were wonderful people, but at the same time, I was pretty much as nervous as I could be. Pre-planning the questions was a huge help, but I have to admit I felt a little pretentious putting them together. But to your point, as I did take the time to put the questions together, I really should put them out there for the benefit of future clubs.

    Thank you for sharing yours too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve had lovely meetings with book club members too. 😀 As a once book club member, I think having questions ready is appreciated. It saves someone from having to sit down and create questions on their own time. And they can always ignore them or add their own. If you created them, I’d definitely make them available. 🙂

      Like

  41. Why didn’t I think of this? My most favorite part of promoting my two books – and I do not find it comfortable to promote or market-is going to book clubs and talking about my books. I’ve been invited to five book clubs so far in the Boston area as well as the San Francisco area. Everyone had bought my book and read it before the meeting. They listened raptly as I talked about the characters and plot and writing process . But the most fun was all the questions the readers had after my little talk. In my next book, I will definitely include a Discussion Guide in the back. Thank you thank you! 💚

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t have them in the back matter of my books, Pam, but I do direct readers to my author website to get them there. How wonderful that you do book club talks! I did one and it was so fun as well as a great way to sell books 🙂

      Like

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