Book Group Do’s

1.  Enjoy the experience of reading new books and discussing them.

2.  Select a character driven book, one with an ambiguous ending, or one that features a character making a difficult decision.

3.  Have a leader who can guide the discussion and handle difficult members.

4. Start with a general, open-ended question like, “what does the title have to do with the book?” rather than “well, what did everyone think of the book?” Instead, let that be your last question.

5.  Choose titles at least 6 months in advance to take advantage of “mini-topics” – 3 books (perhaps 2 fiction, 1 nonfiction).

Two examples:

1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

2.  The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

3. Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 by Paul Hendrickson


1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

3. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild

6.  Vary your book group meetings by having occasional meetings where everyone brings a book they want to share with the others – many groups do this in December.

7.  Recognize the importance of silence. If you ask a good, open-ended question, it will take people time to think about and formulate their response – so don’t panic if nobody speaks immediately.

8.  Have everyone bring at least one question they want discussed and put them into a bowl – when there’s a lull in the conversation, draw out the next question.

9.  Remember that a successful book discussion doesn’t depend on everyone liking the book – in fact, the most successful discussions are a result of healthy disagreements between participants.


Need some ideas for your next book group selection? Here is a list of recommended book group titles.