It’s the Little Things that Count

Does your book group feel tense, bored, tired, frustrated, even hostile? Looking to create a better atmosphere? Five or six comments per meeting might be all it takes to turn a mediocre group into one that is happy, productive, and closely knit. Small comments that reward participation, encourage discussion, or show other readers that you notice them will roll downhill, eventually snowballing into a avalanche of good feelings. Try inserting one or two of these comments into your next meeting:

  • “It’s good to see you. Thanks for coming.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about _________’s comment about _________ last time. I just can’t get it out of my head.”
  • “I’ve been repeating your story about, your review of, your funny comment regarding  _____________ to my friends ever since our last meeting.”
  • “I’m curious to see what _________ has to say about this book. She had such witty things to say about this authors last book/It reminds me of one of his favorite books ____________/It fits so well with her own experiences or areas of expertise.”
  • “This book reminded me of our discussion on ______________ because ___________. That was a good meeting.”
  • “What an interesting way to look at the book, ____________. You always find the most interesting angles for discussion.”
  • “I can always count on you to say something witty/smart/intriguing, ____________, even when I don’t really love the book we chose.”
  • “I want to go back to what ________________ said about __________________. It was such an interesting idea and I don’t think we explored it enough.”
  • “This book was a challenge/this next book will be a challenge, but I think this group will do it justice because you are such insightful readers.”
  • “_____________, you don’t always talk much, but when you do, I can’t wait to hear what you’ll say.”
  • “_____________, we can always count on you to dig a little deeper.”
  • “We’ll see you all next month, I can’t wait to hear what you’ll come up with then.”
  • “It was fun to hear people defending their ideas so vigorously tonight. What a debate!”

Those are some of my favorite motivators. What are some of the small, subtle comments or techniques that you use to keep feelings good and encourage good discussion?

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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