What’s better than reading some really super freakin’ amazing books? Talking about these books with some really super freakin’ amazing fellow book nerds!
We love reading, and talking about reading, and when we meet equally passionate, smart, engaged, and caring book nerds, we can’t help but squeal oh-so-loud. And when we say talk, we don’t mean a couple throwaway sentences like, “the book was great” or “wasn’t the romance SO HOT” (though of course we say these things about one-gazillion times a week.) These are good and dandy, but when we have a chance to all sit down in a confined space together, with the intention to focus on discussion over specific scenes and themes within the book, we couldn’t be happier clams.
But it’s hard to do this, because, well, time, space, and a whole other bag of limitations. So what could help, you ask? After you’ve started your own YA book club, you should be asking the following questions to really get conversation flowing!
Scroll down for our top tips on the questions you should be asking, and get to it!
The Best Questions to Ask at YA Book Club
i.e. BOOK NERDS UNITED™
1. Did the Book Give You All The Feels?
The best stories are the ones that give you allllll the feels—the good, the bad, the ugly cry! Hopefully, your book club pick did the job so you have plenty to gush about at your meeting.
What’s next? Treat the novel like your best friend’s newest crush and really dive into the details. Explore every twist of the stomach and each beat your heart skipped. Dish about all the gory details and explore how the book really impacted your emotions.
2. Did You Get Hooked or Take the Struggle Bus?
The most satisfying stories hook you on the first page. And the next. And the next.
But others, for whatever reason, are sometimes harder to get through. You may even carry a dirty little secret to book club—that you didn’t finish the story at all. Were you hooked on this book from the beginning, did you get into it more in the middle, or was it a struggle bus the whole ride through?
3. Could You Relate to the Book’s Perspective?
When you were reading this book, did you have that rush of identification where you realize, “wait, that’s me”? Maybe you checked your journal to see if the author didn’t steal it in the night.
When you identify deeply with a story, you can often climb into the character’s skin and walk through the tale as though you’re learning those same lessons along the way. Explore how, or even if, you identified with the novel and which parts seemed the most familiar to you.
4. Which Characters Are Coming to Your Dinner Party?
You’re throwing the imaginary literary bash of the year and get to send invites to three characters from the book. Who makes the guest list?
Are you dying to flirt with the leading man or hoping to hug the warm and wise mentor? Perhaps the main characters don’t even make the cut. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have the bystanders to dinner to see if they see the narrator the same way she sees herself? Do you want to invite the nice characters or the ones on the naughty list? Plan your party, and imagine what the attendees will say.
5. Who Would You Cast in the Film Adaptation?
One of our fave creative games … If the book were made into a film, who would you cast in each role?
Do you see the muscular adventurer as Dwayne The Rock™ Johnson? Is the red-headed vixen an obvious ringer for Bella Thorne? Maybe you’ll pluck Eris Baker from “This Is Us” and put her up on the silver screen. Have your book club attendees write out their cast lists first and then compare to see if any roles were so obvious the picks overlapped.
6. Where Would Your Besties Fit in the Novel?
Time to put your best friends on the red carpet! If you were casting the story’s roles from people you know, where would your friends and family members fit in the tale? Go ahead and throw your frenemies into the mix, too.
Drawing on the pool of people in your town, how would the story change if these individuals were actually placed in the situations depicted in the book?
7. What Symbolism Did You Notice?
Symbolism is a tricky thing. Basically, symbolism occurs any time one thing makes you think of another. Good authors will often insert subtle symbolism into their stories so you get the lesson gently through deep contemplation and rewarding “a-ha!” moments. If symbolism is too obvious or obviously lacking, the moral of the story may feel more like a board to the head than a satisfying epiphany.
One of the great things about symbolism is that different people latch onto different symbols. Emma might see a romantic gesture in the rose, while Madison sees the thorns. Questions like this will give you those rich opportunities to get better acquainted with the people in your book club. The way an individual perceives a symbol can tell you as much about them as about the story.
8. What Would Happen If You Changed the Setting of the Book?
Take the story out of its current setting and plop the characters and plot points down somewhere else. If you’ve ever watched a modernized version of a classic like Romeo and Juliet, you’ll see where this is going.
If you read a contemporary novel, consider how the characters would have acted 100 years before their time. Turn a medieval fantasy into a space opera. Place a historical romance in a post-apocalyptic zombie setting. Would the outcome still be the same, or is the setting so crucial that the relationships dissolve in another world?
9. What Are the Most Tweetable Lines?
Let your fellow readers know that this question is on the docket before they begin the book.
As you’re reading, keep an eye out for that perfectly tweetable line. Is it a quote from one of the characters or a poetic description of the setting? Which single line is the strangest, most compelling, or most hilarious choice from the book? Bonus points if your book club buddies really tweet these tidbits as they find them. And make sure to tag #EpicReads
10. Where Does This Book Fit On Your Bookshelf?
Would you give this book the pride of placing it on your nightstand, where you can reread it often? Does it go on the shelf with the other books you lend out to your friends? Maybe it ends up in the donation pile.
Share how you feel about the book as a whole, and consider where it fits in your book collection. Discuss other authors that are similar and stories that you’d categorize the same way so you can find the perfect fit for this book in the landscape of your literary life.
11. What’s the Soundtrack to the Story?
Another favorite reading activity … Which playlist is playing in the background during the key moments of the story?
Is this a Taylor Swift song come to life, or do you hear Imagine Dragons laying down the beat? Pick a soundtrack for the story with three to five (or more!) key songs that fit with the tale as you see it in your head. Get creative with this game. Vivaldi is as likely as The Beatles to show up on the list. Which tunes set the mood best as you’re playing out the action in your head?
12. What Moment Would You Pay to See Live?
The book fairy has granted you the ability to become a fly on the wall in any part of the story (ugh, only our DREAM). Where do you most want to be? Would you like to witness an iconic scene from the story firsthand, or are you more interested in buzzing away to a scene we didn’t see? What was really happening with the crush-worthy boy while your heroine was at home pining for him? How were the peasants preparing for the mythical war while the book kept its focus on the queen?
Pick your place and share what you see. Do you notice details that the author didn’t include? As the heroine is preparing for her journey, perhaps your fly eyes notice bread crust on the floor. You feel like she was snacking while she packed, even though it wasn’t mentioned in the book. See what other details your fellow book lovers would add to the story if they could jump in and observe the tale.
13. What Do You Want to Ask the Author?
What one question would you most like to pose to the author about their story? This question is fun because it has the bonus aspect of being particularly interactive. Brainstorm with your book club, and try to drill down just one concise question you all want to know. Now, go ahead and ask it! Look up the author’s Twitter handle, Facebook page, or email address and pose your question. While you’re not guaranteed a response, you may be surprised at some of the writers who are willing to answer.
Book clubs are a great way to experience your favorite reads in a fresh way. If you don’t have a club yet, consider starting one. Joining forces with other book lovers, you’ll find plenty of new recommendations for great books to read.
Share your book club favorites in the comments below!