THE BIG 15

When I wrote Read ‘Em Their Writes, I had to think about book discussion questions and the impact of what you say on the overall success of the evening. In reviewing my notes from over the years and all of the workshops that I had attended, I discovered I had these 15 questions that I would claim are the life savers for every leader.

In fact, I claim that I could walk into any room of people will to discuss any title and use these questions, without having read the book. I am not advocating that, just saying it is possible. I know because I did it once when I was called to pitch hit for a discussion leader who had taken ill.

So when I train, I make sure that every person goes home with a copy of the following questions:

Were the characters believable?
To which character could you most relate?
Was the plot believable?
What scene from this book do you like most—or least?
Did the book’s setting enhance the story?
What do you think happened to these characters after the book ended?
How did you feel at the end of the book?
Was order restored to this world at the end of the novel?
Was justice obtained at the end of the novel?
Did you enjoy the author’s style?
What do you think the title meant?
What was the book’s theme?
Did the theme affect any of the main characters?
Can you name another book that this book compares to?
Would you read another book by this author?

And if those don’t work, here is the silver bullet:

Who would you cast in the movie?

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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