Stretching, the Book Group Way

Just as with an exercise routine, it’s a good idea to build a warm-up exercise into the start of each book group meeting. Why you’re not at risk of pulling a muscle while sitting in your chair in the circle, you will get a better conversation if you can 1) get everyone focused on books; 2) encourage your readers to start talking; and 3) set a fun, friendly tone for the meeting. It’s worth taking fifteen minutes to break the ice at the start of each meeting to accomplish these goals. I often find that these little exercises also inspire book choices, themes for future meetings, or other ideas for conducting your group. Here are twenty questions or games that you can ask to get the creative juices flowing. Most of these can be answered spontaneously, but a few require set-up at the prior meeting.

  1. Who’s your favorite author whose last name begins with the letter ____?
  2. What book has been on your “to-read” list the longest? What stops you from getting to it?
  3. What book on your shelf has the ugliest cover? The most inviting cover? (bring the books to pass around!)
  4. Which author would you most like to invite to the book group? Which would make the worst book group member?
  5. What book did you love that others would not expect you to like?
  6. What’s the best book set in the country of _______? The city of ________?
  7. What did your parents read? Your grandparents?
  8. What was the best book you were ever assigned to read in school? The worst?
  9. Which authors writing today will people still be reading one hundred years from now?
  10. What is your favorite place to read?
  11. If you could live in one book, which book would you choose?
  12. What do you remember about your first library? Your first bookstore?
  13. What character from a book do you feel the most kinship with?
  14. If you could go on a date with one book character, who would you choose? What would you do on the date?
  15. What’s your most significant memory of listening to a book read aloud?
  16. What would the protagonist from this month’s book do if she lived in ancient times? If he lived in another country? If you put her in a novel from another genre? What jobs would he or she be good at?
  17. What’s the best book with a number in the title? A color? The name of a place? The word _____?
  18. Who would you cast in a movie adapted from this month’s book?
  19. What would be a better (or more honest) title for the book ____________?
  20. How would this month’s book be different if it had been written by __________?

Does your group ever play games? If so, please share some of your favorites in the comments.

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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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  1. Bookish Monday | Walking Identity Crisis | July 18, 2011

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