You’ve done your research, and you’ve found a book discussion group you’d like to try. How can you make the most of the experience?
Read the Book
- Don’t commit to meetings that are less than a month out. You’ll need more reading time than you think.
- If you’ve already read the book, do a quick skim to refresh your memory.
- Read through any discussion questions that were provided, and take some notes as you read.
- If life gets in the way, which is sometimes inevitable, remember – this isn’t school! Ask the group leader if it’s ok to attend without having read the book.
Read the Room
- If the book discussion group is meeting in person, ask ahead of time how you’ll find them. (Attend first in-person meetings only in a public place.)
- When you arrive, don’t interrupt ongoing conversation, with more than a quiet hello to the person closest to you.
- Respect group participation rules. Avoid interrupting, monopolizing the discussion, and sidebar conversations. In virtual book groups, keep your camera on and maintain consistent eye contact with your camera, especially when speaking.
- Share negative feedback tactfully. Stay tuned for more info in a future post.
Read Your Reactions
So, how’d it go? Did you feel welcome and included? Was the group well-moderated? Was the discussion respectful?
If you were put off by lots of interruptions, sidebar conversations, or longwinded answers that weren’t immediately addressed by the facilitator, consider attending at least one more meeting; some facilitators address these behaviors in one-on-one private conversations after the meeting.
If you weren’t sure about the mix of participants, examine your reasons. Were they not like you? That could be a good thing; learning from and building relationships with others from diverse backgrounds in a book discussion group is enriching. However, if you want friends with similar life circumstances and started your book group search with that goal in mind, maybe it’s time to find another group.
Pay attention to your own personal red flags; if your comments are treated dismissively or in a way that you consider to be disrespectful, or if anything makes you feel unsafe, trust your gut and look for another group.
Did your gut tell you this is the group for you? Congrats! Now go get that next book and start reading in time for your mext meeting.