Top 10 Questions to Bring to Book Club to Reflect, Inspire, and Connect!
Top 10 Questions to Bring to Book Club
During the pandemic, there has been an upswing in book club participation. I know that I have experienced this personally and seen it among my book-loving peers. The resurgence of interest in book clubs and book-related discussions have been bolstered by lockdowns and our need to find ways to connect with others while we work, live, and shelter at home.
At BooknBrunch we have worked to find interesting ways to engage with the book community and each other, bringing people together to enjoy books through our virtual book club events, author and book events, and features about upcoming reading and reviews on The Journal! As someone who loves to talk about books, this is great news! It means I have met more bookish friends who also love to read and talk about their favourite authors, genres, and writing. Book clubs offer a place to reflect on what we have read, inspire critical thought and robust discussions, and connect with other readers and authors. I have loved meeting and engaging with authors over the past year via online platforms.
That being said, there is no better time to make the most out of your book club experience through fine-tuning your book club questions to enhance discussions. But where to start? Fortunately, with the help of Beautiful Words, this task is made easy through their brilliantly crafted Book Banter Bookmarks. I stumbled upon these bookmarks on Instagram and have found them helpful for my personal and professional reading, discussions in book clubs, and in helping my children reflect and connect with their reading.
Beautiful Words is a Canadian company located in Windsor, Ontario. Founders Beth, Deanna, and Kate are a group of friends and educators who love to talk about books and host book club meetings. They sought to enhance their reading experiences after finding that their conversations sometimes fell flat, belaboured repetitive themes, or got caught up in the details. They wanted to create something that would bring about more meaningful conversations that inspired critical reflection while relating and connecting to their readings personally, with others and the larger world. Beautiful Words marries curated questions and cues to stimulate rich dialogue for their book clubs with a bookmark. It’s a perfect blend of functionality and creative ingenuity.
Beautiful Words have crafted a range of Book Banter bookmarks with key questions to guide readers as they engage in the material and their subsequent book club conversations. They come in a variety of styles and colours to suit readers’ aesthetic tastes and reading trop preferences. Not only are they pleasing to the eye and act as a placeholder in your book, they offer you a handy way to check in with your reading experience – right at your fingertips!
Beth, Deanna, and Kate feel the best book club questions are the ones that spark meaningful conversations, push you out of your comfort zone, and get you thinking about the story in a new way! Together, we have come up with 10 questions to help you dig deeper in your reading and get you excited for your next book club meeting.
Top 10 Questions:
- Which character do you love to hate? Or, hate to love? This fun question is a great way to introduce discussions on protagonists, minor characters, antagonists, and characters who left a lasting impression.
- What were beautiful words or passages that you found in the story? Hearing beautiful writing and passages read aloud that resonated with you and other members helps to form deeper connections with one another.
- How do the techniques – flashbacks, symbols, change in narration/time period – enhance or hinder the story? Talking about writing style and craft is a great way to reflect on how writing choices influence the story. It helps you appreciate writers’ skill, their choice of words and phrasing, prefered imagery, and expands your palate as a reader.
- What details or patterns did you piece together to create a new understanding? This question gets you thinking about all the hidden meanings, symbols, and motifs that add an extra layer to the story!
- How does the story portray gender, race, class, sexuality? This question inspires discussion about tropes, stereotypes, and representation in books so we can critically analyze our books and explore matters of social justice.
- What issues do you have with the story? Book clubs are all about the conversation, which is precisely what these bookmarks seek to facilitate. While it is easy to chat about what you love, sometimes conversations skirt around what we might not have liked. This question helps to address the book’s shortcomings thoughtfully and without negatively setting the tone for the whole meeting.
- For younger readers, how do you think a character might be feeling? What in the story have you taken to heart? Questions like this are empathy- and connection-driven and are designed to help children identify with feelings through the lens of a character which, through practice, could help equip them to better translate this to their own experiences.
- What wacky, wonderful and unexpected things popped up in the story? Helping kids to look for silliness, surprises, and shifts in stories is great preparation for seeing these events in their own lives and help them to manage when things don’t go according to plan.
- For professional readers, What inspired you to read this book? And how did this book resonate with you? This question seeks to tap into a reader’s intention. Professional readers approach reading with purpose, such as finding solutions to complex work, family, and personal matters. This cue helps readers engage in critical reflection and stay present and alert while they are reading.
- Lastly, how does this book motivate you to persevere, patch, or pivot in your professional practice or personally? This question is fitting for all audiences and can be easily modified to really get at the heart of how readers reflect, relate, and connect with a novel and reading experience. Think of it as the final takeaway or a book’s parting gift to you for taking the journey.
Speaking of parting gifts!
Book Banter bookmarks can be found in bookstores in Windsor, Sarnia, and Uxbridge. There are plans to expand to bookstores across Ontario and Canada in the coming months. They can also be purchased online at www.wearebeautifulwords.ca or via their instagram account, @wearebeautifulwords. For every bookmark sold, Beautiful Words donates 10% to the WindsorEssex Community Foundation to support literacy in our community. This truly is a bookmark with purpose, passion, and impact!
Have a regular book club? Sign up to become a host and host your next book club event with us. Don’t forget to bring these questions with you to your event!
Melanie Wagstaff lives with her high school sweetheart (now husband), two children, and cat. Melanie practices social work in child welfare and loves chocolate, hearty laughs, engaging discourse, and the occasional run. Melanie is a voracious reader and believes in the power of knowledge, the written word, and storytelling.
Favourite book: Eek! Just one?! Fave read for 2020: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Favourite brunch spot: My dining room table prepared by my hubby and complemented by fresh food from our local markets.