How do you prepare? Part One

How do you prepare for your book group discussion? 

I know that everyone has different methods and approaches.  Everyone does different things in order to feel “ready.”  Some of us may take copious notes while others may like the thrill of going by the seat of their pants. 

I guess I come somewhere in between.  When I have the time, or if I think the book is particularly complex, I like to page back through the book and take notes.  I comb through each page, each chapter, for foreshadowing, relationships, events, and sometimes copy down entire lines or paragraphs that I find meaningful or beautiful.  I make note of page numbers where characters are introduced or where turning points occur.  Sometimes this turns out to be a couple of pages and sometimes ten.  Sometimes I write discussion questions for my group if there aren’t any available.  Or I do some reading about the author and their body of work. 

Other times doing a quick scan of the book and of the discussion questions is enough.  Other times I go in without giving it much thought.   

Once I filled in for a colleague for a book I had not read.  The group told me I did a great job and they wouldn’t have known that I hadn’t read the book if I hadn’t told them!  There went all of my theories about reading thoroughly and being prepared! 

But really, when it comes down to it, I never feel completely “ready.”  You never know what someone is going to say.  You don’t always know what you’re going to say!  I also enjoy how the conversation organically evolves, how one question or comment leads to the next.  I like to be prepared to be surprised.

But please share your secrets.  I’d like to learn something new!



About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

2 Comments on "How do you prepare? Part One"

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  1.' Kristen says:

    I actually run a blog that offers “kits” for book clubs who either want a little help or simply do not have enough time to prepare for their book clubs! I was a high school English teacher for 15 years and have written countless discussion questions for both reluctant readers and highly motivated readers. I usually find the questions in the back of a book or online pretty disappointing, so I starting writing my own. It’s really fun… If you’re ever short on time or are simply curious, check out my blog: 🙂

  2.' Lisa says:

    I earmark pages and highlight passages I think I might want to refer back to (I only damage book club books, not all books!) I look through discussion questions and email all members to ask them to bring questions, too. I might ask them to bring something with them to the meeting- their favorite passage (or least favorite scene). Something that will add to the discussion. I check to see if the author has a website or has done any interviews and pass that info along, too. I check to see if there is a movie coming out. Sometimes I’ll email the author and request an author chat. I look up reviews (good and bad) I always feel the more prepared I am, the better. But there have been times when I’ve just flown by the seat of my pants, and those meetings have turned out fine.. even great!

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