The care & feeding of Book Groups
Meet once a month
Pick a day – like second Monday of the month and stick to it
10-15 members – if larger then not everyone will have a chance to speak
Don’t have a book group smaller than 5
Remember: A book group is
5 “don’ts” and 2 ‘dos” for book groups
1. Select a story-driven books
The best books for discussion are ones where the author does not tell you everything. Need to look for books in which the ending is ambiguous. Or the main character makes a decision that will please many people or infuriate many people. Remember that any book a person hasn’t read is new to them.
2. opt to have meetings without a leader
The responsibility of a book group leader
Not necessarily the librarian
Help people feel empowered
Leader deal with group dynamics
Leader keeps the discussion going
Many may not want to lead because of the research behind the job. It is not necessary to look at reviews- it does not matter what anyone but the group. The leader may look for some information on the author but only where it pertains to the story. Any knowledge should not be announced upon beginning of the meeting. It should flow during the discussion if it fits the discussion. To take some pressure off the leader you can have each member come to the group with one question that they want answered. The possible to rotate leaders works well too. This allows for a different perspective and less responsibility on one person.
A leader or group needs to develop some rules by analyzing what has worked and not worked in the past. A balance must be established.
3. Go around the circle and ask for everyone’s ideas
This may put too much pressure on someone to come up with an educated answer. They won’t speak from their heart.
Most members can take a couple of moments to find an answer
Some may take much longer to decide what to say
And they may not like to interrupt someone’s when they are talking
Notice the body language when some one wants to speak
Leaning forward, opening their mouth
Call on them when you see this, otherwise they will not make their ideas heard
Those who talk toooooo much
One person dominates the conversation
It is hard fro members of the group to confront that person
Leader sits with dominate person to their right if the leader is right handed
Allow that person to speak once
The next time they speak the leader should stop the person, lets let some one else talk by gently touching their arm.
4. begin with the question “ What did you think of the book?”
It forces people to take sides
Examples of better beginning questions:
What is the significance of the title?
What if the author had chosen to tell it from a different characters point of view?
Which character seemed the most real? Best developed?
What do you think the author wanted us to get from this book?
How would you rewrite the ending?
Read books you might not enjoy
What do you do with people who never read the book?
This is not that big of deal
In fact discussion may intrigued them to read the book
What if your members hate the book
Many may not attend the meeting
Yet, the best discussion take place when some enjoy and some dislike the book
Encourage them to come, whether they like it or not
5. Choose books on a month-by month basis
One meeting should be dedicated for choosing all books for the group for six months or a year in advance. You may choose themes. You can choose a variety of fiction and nonfiction. Ex.
1. Enjoy the experience of reading new books an discussing them
Reasons for being in a book group
To read and discover new books
Have opportunity to explore these books in different ways
2. Recognize the importance of silence
Don’t worry about a small amounts of time (it feels longer than it truly is)
Some one will always answer…(
Realize that these questions are making people think…
You need to give them that time to think