A Reader's Place
We read to know we are not alone.
~ C. S. Lewis~
Book Group Guide
POTENTIAL POINTS OF DISCUSSION
Narration: Who is the narrator? First person, third person, several narrators? Is the narrator omniscient? Does the narrator have a bias?
What,When and Where: Does the book have a single theme, or several themes? How are these worked into the story? What is the setting and when does the book take place? How do these elements affect the story?
Characterization: Discuss the characters and what they bring to the story: points of view, ideology, humor, author’s mouthpiece? Are they well-developed, sketchy, or stereotypical? Do any undergo a transformation? Who do you find most sympathetic? Do you identify with any of the characters? If not sympathetic, do they affect your reaction to the book?
Style: What stands out most in terms of style—is there a lot of action, a very detailed plot, little action, a lot of description, a lot of dialogue? What is the langague like: is it literary, is it colloquial, does it incorporate dialect differences or slang, is it poetic? How do the style and the story play off each other?
Structure: Is the book divided into parts containing several chapters? If so,why? What do the parts represent? Are the chapters noteworthy either for length, brevity, or another reason? If there is foreshadowing, in what part of the narrative does it appear? Are there any surprises? Consider how the author gets us into the book in the beginning and wraps things up at the end. Is the ending satisfying? How does the structure contribute to the book as a whole?
Background Information: Provide a brief biography of the author, mention other books, awards and prizes. Bring in photographs, maps, articles and books to share which broaden the whole discussion. For a discussion of The Kite Runner, information about Afghanistan including photographs or a short viewing of a film might be useful, as well as maps of Afghanistan and Pakistan. For a nonfiction work such as Devil in the White City, there is a wealth of tie-in materials: photographs and films of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, examples of buildings designed by the architects in the book, period photographs of Chicago, books about the landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and the original newspaper articles about the criminal.