Do you like reading? Are you in a book group? Help!

chairs Help! The other day I agreed to write a list of book group discussion questions for my novels The Blue Suitcase and  Food of Ghosts. The thing is, even though I have been in a book group, I’d never really seen (never mind discussed) book group questions. Then, by sheer coincidence, I finished reading The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and discovered 20 reading group discussion questions at the end!  They vary from:

“What do you think are the central themes of the novel?”


“Did you enjoy the use of humour?”

I thought the questions were okay but that I could do better. Then I tried. Yikes! It is not as easy as it sounds – see my first efforts to write book group questions for The Blue Suitcase here! It then occurred to me I should be asking the experts ie: all you readers out there!

Can you help? If you are in a book group, and even if you’re not, what kind of questions would you recommend – you don’t have to have read my novels to do this? Send one question or ten, or twenty! All welcome!

cook We will publish the best questions in the Kindle/ebook versions of the books, the blog and in the paperbacks (on the next print runs), and you  and/or your book group’s name will be published alongside your questions for the world to see!

When you have your questions ready,  send them to me

Finally, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on book group questions generally.  Do leave a comment here and say if you think they are a good idea or not.  What is the worst question you have come across? What is the best?

PS: If you are not sure what book club discussion questions are, check out my draft questions for The Blue Suitcase: Book Group Questions The Blue Suitcase. I am not 100% happy with these questions, so do let me know what you think of them: too long, too tricky, too easy?

pilrigpress20title2 PPS: If you are in a book group and would like to read either of my novels, Pilrig Press has a special book group offer, so do contact Marc@pilrigpress if you are interested.



Oops, nearly forgot, at the moment you can download a Kindle ref=sib_dp_kd-1 copy of Food of Ghosts for only £0.99 pence and The Blue Suitcase for only £1.53 



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14 Responses to Do you like reading? Are you in a book group? Help!

  1. john gray says:

    My question would be: Does any part of the book trigger any memories of an event or an emotion you experienced yourself?
    Boy, as you say, it is difficult to think of something original!

  2. Bubbles says:

    Oh! Good Luck with this. It is a tough one especially with the blue suitcase having such a chilling outlook of the war at that time. Its one that still sticks with me especially the mums side of events, going from a sucessful person to someone almost being cremated!

    I’m not part of a book group but often think it would be nice just to see what others opinions are of the books I’ve read. Sometimes it can sway you to see things differently and like you said with the questions it makes you think of things a little deeper then maybe you did earlier.

    I’ll try and think of something but I’m quite hopeless at these things.

    • Thanks 🙂 And, yes, I think the good thing about being part of a book group is exactly as you say, you get to see a book from a fresh perspective and you can read books you may not have usually considered. No pressure on sending me a question at all BUT if something does happen to pop into your mind, no matter how hopeless it may seem, do please send it, you never know 🙂

  3. Katie says:

    Oh good luck, with your reading group, I liked the questions you came up with on your list.

    I think the one I would add for the blue suit case is… Did you feel the characters had a realistic closeness?

    What character did you most relate to?

    Did you find the plot changed of the book changed your opinion of a character?

    It’s really hard to think of some. lol

    take care

    • Glad you think The Blue Suitcase questions seem okay and a BIG thanks for your suggestions. A reader’s relationship with the characters in a book is very important, so a very good idea to have questions about how the readers perceives the different character – and if and how that changes. Excellent! Thanks again 🙂

  4. Julie G says:

    Hi Marianne,

    I actually think your questions are pretty good – especially as there are so many!
    Not having read the Blue Suitcase (yet!), I only have some general comments.
    In my book group our discussion is usually in two parts: one looking at the themes/characters/etc., the other more focused on structure/language and so on. So perhaps it would be interesting to have some “structural” questions too?
    The Blue Suitcase is written in the Xth person. How does this affect the story’s message? What would change if it were written in the Nth person?
    How does the dialogue reflect the characters’ personalities?
    Did you note the use of any particular words/phrases throughout the book?
    Antonia’s native language isn’t English (I’m guessing here) – how does the author convey a sense of Antonia’s culture, while writing in English.

    My least favourite book club questions are the ones that cannot be resolved/discussed at the meeting but require outside information (e.g. “how does the story relate to the author’s life?” would require someone to have brought a biography/interview to the meeting).

    This is really quite a tricky task – good luck!

    • Very kind thanks for his, Julie G. What a good suggestion to have a couple of structural questions – and what great questions, I love them! They offer an opportunity to discuss the novel in fresh way, sort of from the author’s perspective. All the questions are relevant but I particularly like your one about how the author conveys a sense of Antonia’s culture, while writing in English, because this was something I spent a lot of time thinking about. Thanks again, Julie 🙂

  5. Marianne — I envy your being in that wonderful position! I’ve engaged in some pretty animated discussion groups over the years, but one thing I really enjoyed was, “What other reading does this book/character/plot trope lead you towards?” or the always popular, “Have you read similar work you would recommend this book over?”

    • Hi Richard, so sorry for this tardy response to your comment – I did reply to you when it arrived but my reply seems to have vanished in the ether – grrrrr! Thanks so much for joining in and for your kind comment – and for a couple of great questions! 🙂

  6. Hi, Marianne
    Just a few general comments: I dislike book club questions that sound like English class, mainly because I’m pretty sure most authors don’t think like this (“What is the main theme?” “How does the use of symbolism enhance the story?”) when they write books. But questions that are more personal, such as “Overall, how did the book affect you?” are reasonable choices, I think, especially if they get divergent reactions – then it’s fun to try to figure out why some people adamantly dislike a book while others love it! I also like, “What were the best parts of the book for you? The worst?” and, “In your opinion, what was the author’s main intent in writing this book?” Don’t know if that helps – I think my suggestions would not meet with everyone’s approval!

    • Hey Shelia
      Like you, I’m not fond of book group questions that sound too “English class like” – they remind me of a test or an exam. I prefer more general, personal questions, so a big thanks so much for your suggestions! I think they’re great. They invite the reader to discuss her or his emotional reaction to the story, which is after all what the reading experience is all about :O)

  7. Ruth F Hunt says:

    Hello Marianne
    Just smiling at your last comment. My book group is run by a prof. In English and European literature and comes with a list of questions so deep they leave scratch marks on your brain. However, as we meet in a pub, the discussion soon goes from the high to the low in a short space of time.

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