Different kinds of people with very diverse opinions meet to discuss books in a book club, and if there are no guided questions to funnel these discussions, the results can be chaotic. The participants may feel shortchanged, some may grow uninterested, and some may even end up fighting!

If you are a book club moderator or a very active participant, it is therefore very important to have a set of questions to guide the flow of discussion and make sure that it achieves its purposes – to dissect the literature into relevant pieces, and to make sure that participants go home more analytical and inspired. Here are some things to remember when formulating book club questions.

Focus on character analysis. Most books are not about the plot, but about the people. Each one of the participants can probably relate to one or more of the characters in the book, so it's a good idea to ask everyone who they can relate to and why.

Relate the theme and conflicts of the book to real life. Literature is only relevant when it contributes something to the 'now.' Ask the participants how they connect the conflicts in the book to day-to-day struggles. Ask them how they feel about the resolutions and conclusions, and what specific elements of the book are especially relevant to the patterns of modern human interaction.

Always ask for suggestions. Avid book readers probably have alternative suggestions to every book they have ever read – and a book club is a good place to bring all of them out. Ask the members how they think the novel could have been better – how they would write the ending, for example, or how they would change any character or setting.

Before giving a book assignment, it is a good idea to ask the participants to highlight parts of the book they think should be talked about, so they can easily refer to them during the discussion.

During the meeting itself, give everyone a chance to speak. Politely interrupt a 'monopolizing' member by offering him or her food or drinks, or segueing into another question and then asking someone else to answer it.

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