When book clubs decide to create a slate for the whole year, the order can be soothing to those who like to plan ahead. Each year around this time, one of my book clubs starts gearing up for the next calendar year and some cannot wait to add to the list. But for those who cringe at the thought of trying to find a book that everyone will like (will never happen), and a way to start the discussion (website questions being the norm), the following list has books – with assorted possibilities for stirring the pot – questions the readers could have before starting to read.
I’ve read and reviewed them all (click on the title).
Gone Girl – mystery/thriller – Did anyone like the ending? When did you figure it out? How would you write the sequel? change the ending?
That Woman – nonfiction – How does Wallis Simpson compare to Princess Diana? Did the Duke of Windsor really give it all up for her – or was he ready to live outside the responsibility of being King anyway? How would World War II been different with the Duke in charge?
The Buddha in the Attic – very short book (144 pages) – How does this story of Japanese Picture Brides differ from any other similar tales you’ve read of brides who were “bought”? If the brides had switched photographs of their prospective husbands, would it have made a difference? How are their experiences as wives similar? different?
The Glass Room – historical fiction – How did the house change with the owners’ lives, with changes in history – World War II? Imagine yourself in one of the rooms; what would you be doing? Although the house still actually exists as a World Heritage Site, would the fictional owners have approved?
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It – 11 short stories – Pick one to retell. Do you prefer reading novels rather than short stories – why? Do you have a favorite short story from another author? (bring it along so someone can read it aloud to the group)
Last year I listed More Ideas for Books to Discuss – no one picked any of the books on the list.
What book would you add to the list?
I belong to a local book group which sets up a calendar for the year. Each member nominates up to three titles. Then we vote (secret ballot), rating each book for our personal desire to read and discuss it as a group. It is perfectly ok to reject a book because you have just read it on your own or think is is worthy but do not want to discuss it or we just read another book by that author — or whatever. A neutral party scores the responses and provides a draft list which we then review as a group and set the schedule. Sounds like a lot of work, but we find we enjoy the process as various members lobby for their choices. We end with a list on which most of the books strongly interest most of our members.
Thanks for sharing your system; it does sound complicated but an interesting process.