Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guidelines for Book Discussions

Whether your book group has been meeting for decades as ours has (28 years in April) or is just getting started; whether all of your members have some connection outside of the book group or are just getting to know one another, it will serve your group well to review periodically these guidelines for a lively book discussion:

1. Respect space: Avoid "crosstalk" or talking over others.
2. Allow space: Some members are more outgoing and others more reserved. If you've had a chance to talk, allow others time to offer their thoughts as well.
3. Be open: Keep and open mind, learn from others, and acknowledge there are differences in opinion. That's what makes it interesting.
4. Offer new thoughts: Try not to repeat what others have said, but offer a new perspective.
5. Stay on the topic: Contribute to the flow of the conversation by holding your comments to the topic of the book, keeping personal references to an appropriate minimum.

Many thanks to Reading Group Choices for providing these guidelines.

These principles are useful not just for book groups but also for business meetings, family gatherings, online chat rooms, blogs, etc. If you would like to add another suggestion that, in your experience, is helpful in promoting a civilized discourse, please leave it in a Comment.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have a suggestion to promote lively discourse, but I recently listened to a very funny story about a bookgroup. It is the Vinyl Cafe podcast, on Canadian Public Radio (CBC), January 22, 2011, available on iTunes. It is like a Canadian Lake Woebegone. There are two stories about bookgroups on the show, one true and one fictional.