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October 5, 2010

Structured Discussion? Or Let the Conversation Flow?

Posted by Dana

I don't why I'm so full of questions this week... I guess it's because I think sometimes the best ideas we get here at RGG are from you... our readers.  You are out there in the trenches (or living rooms anyway) experiencing your book clubs and having all kinds of wonderful (or strange) discussions and tons of great ideas. 

So today my question is this... Do you prefer a structured discussion or to just let the conversation flow?  Do you like to have a set leader who brings along discussion questions and other related articles and perhaps walk through the book from beginning to end?

Or do you prefer a more unstructured route?  A winding discussion wherever the group goes?  If you do like this method, do you find you end up off track sometimes?  Does that bother you?  Is it a good thing or bad?

For me personally, I like a hybrid... I usually bring along the discussion guide and refer back to it if we have a lull or we get too far off topic.  But I like hearing the comparisons to other books or to real life experiences that come up when we meander, and I like the casual feel of the unstructured meeting.  But that's just me.  I also like extra olives in my martini - but I don't expect you too!

Here's a thought - why not mix things up a bit - if your group is into the structured discussion - why not start the night that way and then maybe loosen it up a bit for the second half.  Or if your group is more unstructured like mine... try a structured activity first.  Maybe start with each character in your book and discuss one by one before you let loose and let it roll.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about what works best and any experiments of this nature that you've tried.  As always, feel free to comment here on the blog, or email me at!

-- Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor