How does one facilitate a book discussion?

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How does one facilitate a book discussion?

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1ulan25
Dez 5, 2006, 12:30am

Hello! I'm new here.

I'm part of The Philippine Tolkien Society and we're currently holding an online group reading/discussion of The Hobbit.

We already have someone facilitating the discussion (she has a list of discussion points), but I wanted to ask you all for tips on how to enhance a book discussion.

I've never formally moderated a book discussion before and I'd be glad to hear of your experience :-)

Thank you!

2avaland
Dez 6, 2006, 12:27pm

Short of asking the general question "did you like the book, why?" And if you didn't, why not?", one of the easiest ways to start a discussion, I've found, is to discuss the main characters one by one. It's a nice warm-up and will often lead comfortably into other prepared questions.

When we have done this, it takes the form of brainstorming, where members call out adjectives: "beautiful," "vapid", "pretentious," Sometimes delightful disagreements start here. And I usually save the main characters for last. By this time the discussion is, more often than not, moving along quite nicely without me but if it isn't, we move easily into other questions.

3ulan25
Dez 7, 2006, 6:13am

thanks for the tip. i'll keep that in mind!

4Cecilturtle
Dez 7, 2006, 10:04pm

I'm new at bookclubs, but in our last meeting, the person who had picked the novel did some background research on the book and the author. By putting the work in context, we saw the book in a different perspective and it generated lots of discussion. It also helped shed some light on some of the more obscure passages that most of us didn't understand which led us into very different interpretations. What I've learned? Come prepared!

5mypcjen
Dez 8, 2006, 4:35am

I've found some of our best book club conversations occur when some people love the book and a some hate the book. It's interesting to see everyone's perspectives, especially when you get a broader range of opinions.

Great idea, Cecilturtle, on doing even some basic background research to put the novel into context.

6avaland
Dez 8, 2006, 7:17am

Yes, mypcjen, we even get this here on LT (see "What are you reading now group...best and worst of 2006)!

I should've qualified my remarks a bit; most of the groups I've done have done a bit of background research on their own. These are bookstore-based groups if that makes a difference. But of the groups I've talked with, many have someone do some research and yes, I think it is usually the person who has chosen the book.

Paperback editions of classics have an introduction in the books and many bookgroup-friendly modern novels have additional material included (i.e. author interview, discussion questions). Ballantine readers circle and Harper Collins P.S. are just two publishers who do this. Some groups tell me that they don't like to use the discussion questions as it makes them feel like they're in school?

What about the groups here? Do you use the extra materials the publisher provides in a book?

7ulan25
Dez 18, 2006, 1:41am

Hi! Just wanted to thank everyone who shared tips about how to run a book discussion. Our online group read/discussion is going along nicely.