Book Groups

Reading books has always been a popular way to spend time, relax, and increase your learning. Emily Dickinson said, "There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away."

Many people are no longer just reading by themselves but are interested in forming book discussion groups. The following information may help readers who are forming a new group or veteran book group participants.

Forming a Book Group

"Good Books Lately: the One-Stop Resource for Book Groups and Other Greedy Readers" by Ellen Moore and Kira Stevens. Check the catalog bullet

"The Reading Group Handbook: Everything You Need to Know, From Choosing Members to Leading Discussions" by Rachel W. Jacobsohn. Check the catalog bullet

Reading Group Choices (resources to enhance the shared reading group experience)

Book-Group Corner (from Random House)

Getting Started - Before (or at) your first meeting, discuss:

  • When, where and how often your book group will meet
  • How long each meeting will last
  • Whether you will serve refreshments
  • The role of the leader (or if you will have one)
  • Who develops the discussion questions
  • What types of books will you read and discuss

Selecting Titles to Discuss

It is good to select a list of your group's books well in advance. You don't want to have to spend time at each meeting deciding what to read next. Remember to pick books with a lot to discuss -- not just a 'good read.' Look for books with complex characters who are forced to make difficult choices under difficult situations.

"A Year of Reading: a Month-by-Month Guide to Classics and Crowd-Pleasers for You and Your Book Group" by Elisabeth Ellington. Check the catalog bullet

"More Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason" by Nancy Pearl. Check the catalog bullet

"Read It and Eat: a Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus" by Sarah Gardner. Check the catalog bullet

"The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction" by Neal Wyatt Check the catalog bullet

"What to Read : the Essential Guide for Reading Group Members and Other Book Lovers" by Mickey Pearlman. Check the catalog bullet

Book Club Choices You can sign up for this newsletter and every month, you'll learn about new fiction and nonfiction paperback releases that are sure to promote lively discussion in your book club.

Book Club Favorites: was founded in 2001 to give book clubs a way to recommend books to each other on a national level.

Top Book Club Picks was founded in 2001 to give book clubs a way to recommend books to each other on a national level.

Washington Post Book Club: archive includes information about previous selections and discussion transcripts. You can also find out which books will be discussed in the months ahead.

Where to Locate Discussion Questions

Book Discussion Center includes: Online Discussions | Publisher Guides | Discussion Guides for Kids | Guides for Selected Titles

Bookbrowse: reading guides close to 400 guides are available.

Publisher websites provide questions or reader's guides for books published by them.

The Discussion: (from The Seattle Public Library)

  • 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.