If you are a reader
- what do you get out of them?
Do you like them to target the book closely or be of a more general nature?
How long do you think they should last?

If you are a writer
- have you ever lurked in a discussion of one of your books? How did you feel? Did you feel threatened? Did they ever make you cringe? or wish you had written something a little differently?
Do you think book discussions impact on book sales?

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Kerrie - yes, my book group is similar. Most of us didn't start off as friends, but have developed a degree of friendship over the years, such that we often hear how a book resonates with somebody's family situation for example. Wish we read more crime, I must steer our choices that way :).
Does anybody use 'readers guides'? e.g. you can find them on various publishing house websites. Do you think they are worth looking at?
For the last online discussion I led I created a set of questions prior to the discussion and stored them online so group members could get to them. A couple of people commented on the usefulness of doing that.
One of my problems in leading a discussion is in striking a balance between the general and the detailed questions. What do you think works best?
If a reading guide is available, I find them a good starting place and a good way to help organize my thoughts about a book. I will pick some of the questions as backup if the discussion lags. I recently had an experience where we read McCall Smith's Tears of the Giraffe and I thought the discussion would flow because that book has more depth that the average mystery. When someone said at the start of the discussion that she wasn't sure there was much to discuss. I pulled out the questions and away we went. At the end of the discussion everyone was amazed at how deep the discussion had become.
I belong to two mystery book clubs, both are public groups and face to face. I love talking about what I read and I want an in-depth discussion. I think that is why I was an English major at university. For years I tried to talk to people who hadn't read the book and that was not terribly satisfying for either of us. Now I have people to talk to who have read the book and we have a blast.

Both groups go in-depth in our discussion, if possible. Some mysteries (often the thillers) do not make good book club books, but we try to discuss them. When we pick books, we look for books that have good discussion potential. There are a variety of ways to locate those books.

A good discussion will give me an understanding of the book that I did not have before we talked about it. Also, a good discussion can change people's opinion about a book. Those are satisfying nights. The discussion is usually most lively if there is a difference of opinion on the book.

I have found that 1:30 to 2 hours is a good length When we start talking about non-related topics ,then we know we have said all there was to say.
I'm interested in how you locate books "with good discussion potential"
Does anybody have a pro-forma for a review? What format do the 'best reviews' have? Do you have tips for beginners? e.g. I try very hard not to describe anything that goes beyond the first 50 pages or so of the book - not wanting to create any spoilers for the reader (although I always read all the book- I believe some reviewers don't) I try desperately too to find something good about every book - without creating a false impression. I am very conscious that all published writers have done something that I haven't - written a book, got it published.

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