Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I need help!

I was recently asked to host a book club discussion. This may not seem like a big deal, except...it's about MY book!

While I am thrilled and honored, I see a few problems with this:

1. I've never been to a book club before.
2. I've never hosted a book club discussion before.
3. See 1 & 2.

All of the discussion suggestions I've read online are pretty basic, like, "Who is your favorite character and why?" "Who is your least favorite character and why?" "What was the best part of the book?" "What was the worst part of the book?" Although I'd like to think I have a tough skin, it's more like a candy shell. I don't really want to know the worst character and the worst part of the book. Would it help me in the future? Probably. But that doesn't change the book I've already written. But, constructive criticism is inevitable.And really, is that what a book discussion sounds like?

I guess my biggest problem is that I don't want to sound like a doofus. The fact that I've never been to a book club kind of puts me at a disadvantage.

Are you a member of a successful book club? (ie, one that actually discusses the book and doesn't chat about the Bachelor for over an hour.) Are you an author who's hosted a book club discussion about your own book? Have you ever read a book and wanted to know what other people thought of it?

Please send me some ideas on questions to ask, how to steer the conversation, what topics to discuss...ANYTHING you think might be helpful. I really, really don't want to sound like an idiot in front of these women. Pass on the word to anyone you think might have some good advice for me.

Thank you so much!!

-Deborah Pin It


Dena said...

I go to a book club (although I'm not very faithful about it), and we usually discuss things like the character's strengths and weaknesses, the influences of parental figures (if any) and why they are important. We talk about the way different characters relate and interact with each other, what situations seem realistic, which ones don't, and the impact the character's decisions have on the rest of the story.

For example, Pyper is headstrong and a little temperamental. How do these qualities strengthen her? How do they weaken her? Another question that may seem silly to ask, but I could easily see brought up is why are so many heroes/heroines redheaded? The percentage of redheads in the general population is very small, so why are redheads such a popular choice for authors? Why did you choose to make Pyper a redhead?

Devony said...

I'm in a pretty structured book club that I've been going to faithfully for about 4 years. Frankly, the "who was the best and worst character" type questions are pretty basic and show that the reviewer hasn't put a lot of thought into the review. I haven't read your book (ok, until today I hadn't heard of it - but now I want to read it!) but here are some book review questions for books we have read that we feel have generated a lot of great discussion. Remember that the point of book club discussion is to generate thought, discussion, and make the readers dig a little deeper to discover something about themselves or the characters that they didn't think about before.
(From The Help):
-To what extent do you think a person's flaws, such as racist attitudes and behaviors, can be forgiven because it is the norm in the surrounding culture?
-Could you sympathize with Miss Hilly? Do you think it is possible to be a good mother despite deep character flaws?
-What motivated Aibileen?
-What did you think about Minny's revenge? Was it justified?
-How much do you think the dynamics of relationships between black people and white people have changed?
You can also compare it to other books like it. We read both The Help and Gone with the Wind, so we talked about the differences in the two books in relation to black/white relationships.
Try googling book review questions about specific books you have read to get more ideas. Good luck!