The ultimate list of book club questions

From character studies to ambiguous endings, these questions will help guide you through your next reading group discussion.

Image of books, paper and question marks on an orange background
Image: Flynn Shore/Penguin

Book clubs are the perfect opportunity to take an otherwise solitary pursuit and connect with fellow readers. Whether you have been part of a book club for years or are about to set up a new one, coming up with thought-provoking questions to get the conversation flowing can be just as tricky as deciding what to read next.  

That’s why we decided to do the hard work for you and put together a helpful guide brimming with questions to cover all manner of reading material – plus a few book recommendations along the way! All that is left for you to do is grab your dog-eared books, prep your refreshments, and get ready to enjoy a lively discussion with your bookie friends.   

A deep-dive into characters

Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, Bridget Jones... Throughout literary history, writers have created characters that have felt just as tangible as real people. Whether we love or loathe them, stepping into a character's shoes is a chance to explore new worlds and experiences, and reflect on the complexities of human nature in the process. These questions will help you delve into the characters and figure out what makes them tick: 


Did you like or dislike the characters and why? Did it influence how much you enjoyed the book? 

Which character’s actions or decisions had the biggest impact on the plot, and how did it change the story?  

Which character did you relate to the most?  

Which character would be your ideal dinner guest?  

What motivated a character to do what they did?  

What might have happened to the characters after the book ended?  

Did you trust the characters?  

Were the characters based on real people, and how did that change your perception of them?  

Books with a focus on character study

Exploring the plot

A plot-driven book is like a rollercoaster ride, taking you through a journey full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises. What sets these books apart is their focus on the events and actions that drive the story forward and keep readers on the edge of their seats.  

There are so many techniques that authors use to tell their story that you may not even be aware a plot device is fundamental to understanding the story itself. Here are some questions to help you unravel their meaning...  


If your book had a plot twist, were you genuinely surprised by it? How did it impact your reading experience?  

How did the author effectively build tension and suspense throughout the story?  

If your book had an ambiguous ending or unresolved plotlines, how did that make you feel? What do you think may have happened to the characters?  

How did the setting contribute to the characters and the plot? Was it a place you would want to visit?  

If your book contained more than one timeline, how did they enhance your understanding of the story and characters? Did you find one timeline more interesting than the other? How did they interplay between the timelines contribute to the overall impact of the book? 

If you could change one aspect of the plot, what would it be and how would it alter the story?  

Was the plot based on true events? If so, how did it compare with your prior knowledge of the event? What did you learn?  

Books with pacy, twisty, and interesting plots

Books adapted for the screen

Arguably, the rule of thumb is that the book is always better than the film. However, reading a book and watching the adaptation as part of your book club assignment is a fun way to add some Hollywood glamour to proceedings. Grab the popcorn and let’s get started.... 


How did the adaptation compare to the book? Did it capture the essence of the book, or were there significant differences? Which did you enjoy more?  

What aspects that were changed in the adaptation did you enjoy or not enjoy?  

Were there any characters or plot points that were altered or omitted in the adaptation? How did these changes impact the overall storytelling?  

If you could change one aspect of the adaption to better align with the book, what would it be?  

How did the adaptation influence your understanding of the characters and their development? Did it alter your understanding of their motivation and relationships compared to the book?  

If you could only recommend either the movie or the book to a friend, which one would you choose?  

Adaptions you need to read

Non-fiction books

Does your book club cover non-fiction or are you tempted to try? There are plenty of topics and conversations to explore from memoirs, history, arts or a deep dive into a current cultural conversation. Here are some thought-provoking questions that can apply to a variety of subjects.   


What did you find most interesting or enlightening about the subject matter of the book?  

Did the book challenge any preconceived notions of beliefs you had about the topic, and if so, how did it reshape your views?  

In what ways did the author’s writing style and narrative approach contribute to the book’s impact in communicating the subject?  

Did the book inspire you to seek out more books/media about the topic?  

What actions or changes, if any, do you feel compelled to make as a result of reading the book?  

Did the book make you reflect on your own experiences, and if so, what reflections did you come away with?  

What part of the subject of the book is still relevant in today’s world, and what parallels can you draw between the book and current events?  

Non-fiction perfect to get you talking

Get to know the author

Whether they are a debut or veteran writer, understanding the background, experiences, and motivations of a book’s author is an illuminating way to interpret a book. You may want to do a little research about your authors before your meeting to help you answer these questions... 


What do you know about the author’s life and how might it have influenced their writing of the book? 

Are there any interesting or surprising facts about the author that shed light on their work?  

How does the author’s life compare to the characters or events portrayed in the book? 

What or who do you think might have influenced the author and how is that demonstrated in their work?  

How did this book compare to others by the same author, if you have read them?  

What would you like to read next by or about the author?  

Enlightening books about iconic authors

The End: Reflecting on your reading experience  

Whether you're glad that you (finally!) made it through to the last page or you're missing the characters like they are long-distance friends, now comes the time to reflect on your overall reading experience with a final set of questions:  


What were the most memorable moments or scenes in the book and why did they stand out to you? 

What was the main message or theme of the book and how did it impact you?  

Do you have a favourite quote or passage?  

Did the title of the book or the design of the book cover mean more to you after you had finished reading it?  

Would you re-read it or recommend it to other people?  

Has it made you want to read anything else by the author or within the genre?  

If you enjoyed the book and wanted to read something similar, what would you recommend reading next?  

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