Welcome Book Groupies!
A book group can be a lot of fun, and with a ready-made guide, it’s even easier. Here are links to my books’ guides. See below for tips on starting your own book discussion group.
- Click on the book cover to download the Reading Group Guide for that book.
Some tips for getting started:
1. The easiest way to start a group is through an already-functioning organization—a club at school, church or temple group, girl scout troop, etc. Just post something in the newsletter, mentioning that you’re starting a group. Later, if people who aren’t members of the organization want to join, they can join too. 10-15 is a good number of people for a group (Too many more than that, it is hard to keep track of the conversation. Fewer, it’s too hard to get enough people to a meeting).
2. Another good way is to ask your school or public librarian to put up signs. He or she will probably know other teens with similar interests. I have also visited with discussion groups run through bookstores or by dedicated English teachers.
3. Or just ask some friends who like to read, and tell them to ask their friends too. An ideal number to show up for a discussion is 8-12, but you might want to ask a few extra people just in case not everyone can come to every meeting.
4. Choosing the Books: At your initial meeting, have everyone bring a book or books they have read and would like to share. My group requires that the book be available in paperback and, also, tries to keep below a certain length, like 300 pages. Then, each member “pitches” his or her book suggestions to the group (It helps to have a summary/reviews from Amazon or bn.com to pass around) and people vote. You can choose books a year at a time, or every month.
5. Meetings: Most groups meet once a month. You can meet at members’ homes or in a public place like a school, library, or bookstore (but do ask permission to meet there first so that an area can be set aside for you). Meeting in a public place puts less pressure on people, but meeting at a house is more “comfy.”
6. Discussion Questions: Someone should be in charge of leading the discussion. This could be a different person for each meeting or one person for the year. It helps to have pre-planned discussion questions. Many books have reading group guides available on Amazon.com, from the publishers’ websites, the author’s website (like this one!), or simply by Google-searching the title of the book and “guide” or “discussion guide.”
7. Food (the all-important item). Our group rotates between members’ homes, and we try to have food themed to the book. This can range from the obvious (Korean food for A Step from Heaven) to the esoteric (food lifted directly from the book’s pages—like copying Addie’s diner entrees from Hope Was Here). My group recently discussed Breathing Underwater and we had pizza. When we discussed Bridget Jones’s Diary, I prepared the Turkey Curry Buffet mentioned on the book’s pages. Recently, I attended a nice mother-daughter group (They were discussing Breathing Underwater) that had a monthly brunch at the temple where they met. There is even a Book Club cookbook!
8. Try to have a diverse selection of books, so everyone gets to read something they like, and everyone gets to try something new. Fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, and realistic fiction can all be represented. Some suggested titles to get started: Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier (historical fiction/art), Double Helix by Nancy Werlin (medical mystery), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (biography), The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (historical) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (science fiction), The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier (suspense), Inexcusable by Chris Lynch, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (both realistic fiction—this is great for mother/daughter groups), The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (fantasy), Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, After by Amy Efaw, and (shameless plug here) Fade to Black by Alex Flinn. You might want to throw in a “classic” like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee too.
Reading Group Guides, copyright 2001—2016 Alexandra Flinn. Guides may be reproduced for limited classroom, library or book discussion group use. Please contact the author regarding permission for other use or reproduction.