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Reader's Corner: Starting & Running a Book Club

Looking for a good book to read but don't know where to start? This guide covers popular, award-winning, and just plain great nonfiction and fiction genres and books.

Reading Group Guides & Resources


Tips for Discussion

  • Don’t begin by asking “Did you like the book?” Instead, end with that question.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • What struck you about the book?
  • What was the theme?
  • What was the author’s motivation? What was a particular character’s motivation?
  • What was the significance of the title?
  • Discuss what the author did not say.
  • Be mindful of group dynamics.The discussion’s goal is to expand understanding of the book
    • Find a way to let everyone talk.
    • Are individuals in the group enjoying the discussion?
    • Draw out the timid and gently hold back the talkative ones. Read body language. For example, a person leaning forward wants to speak
    • Have each person in the group ask a question.

Searching for Background Information and Discussion Questions

Google the book title and "discussion questions." 
For example: "Americanah" and "discussion questions"

Google the book title and "book reviews"
For example: "Born a Crime" and "book reviews"

Google the book titles and "author interviews"
For example: "Educated" and "author interviews"

Google Web Search

Boston Public Library Databases

The Boston Public Library has a number of databases that are useful for book clubs researching authors and titles:

  • The NoveList Plus database provides reading recommendations for adults, teens and children. In addition to reading lists, reviews, articles, and more there are book discussion guides available under the "Quick Links" tab. 
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library has over 90 encyclopedias and reference sources covering a range of subjects including biography and literature.
  • Biography In Context provides extensive biographical information on both contemporary and historical figures.
  • Literature Resource Center includes literary criticism articles, work overviews, biographical information, and more.

Visit Literature, Books, and Reading to access additional Boston Public Library online literary resources. Check out Book Discussion Groups: An Introductory Guide for further content on starting and running book groups.