10 Book Small Talk Questions

Most of us here at Bethany House are admitted book nerds. (There was a lunch conversation where we discussed our favorite punctuation marks.) I actually own a game called Jenga for Book Lovers, which is your typical pull-out-a-block-from-the-tower game, but with reading-related questions on each of the pieces that you then read aloud and discuss. Most of the questions are fairly general, asking you to name a favorite genre or character or asking if you prefer ebooks or print.

It did get me thinking, though: what are some interesting conversation starters among readers? If you’re having a social event with your book club, need inspiration for a book blog post, or just want to quiz your fellow reading friends, here are some that I came up with.

One: What sort of stats would you have to track if you formed a version of Fantasy Football, but with authors instead of sports figures? (Character deaths? Vocabulary choices? Bestseller status or just number of tissues needed for the ending?)

Two: Name a classic you feel is overrated and should never be required in schools.

Three: What genre, character type, or trope that most people go crazy for do you secretly (or not-so-secretly) hate?

Four: Is there a book you’re embarrassed to admit you have never read? How about one that you’re embarrassed you have read.

Five: What would make you enjoy a book that didn’t have a traditional happy ending? (Or do you actually prefer those?)

Six: Pick an author, living or dead, who you would want to meet. What questions might you ask that person?

Seven: What is a book published in the last few years that you think will be considered an enduring classic in one hundred years? Why would you say that?

Eight: Have you ever actually thrown a book across the room? Why? (Or why did you consider it?)

Nine: You can live in any book’s world for a day, but only as an observer. Which book do you choose, and what day?

Ten: Can you remember a particular childhood book, series, or author that made you love reading?

Pick your favorite question above and answer it in the comments. I’d love to get to know some of the frequent readers of our blog by hearing your answers!

18 thoughts on “10 Book Small Talk Questions

  1. I will answer #2. For me, Catcher in the Rye. I hate that book. I hate teaching that book. Holden is an immature boy, and he treats others abominably, and then I’m supposed to feel sorry for him? Nope. Grow up and be a man, Holden.

  2. #5: I prefer happy endings, but there is something powerful about a book with a bittersweet ending. Ostensibly, Lord of the Rings and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman both have happy endings–the villain is vanquished, safety restored–but in the end, the characters have changed too much to pick up where they left off; they no longer fit in, and it feels like they’ve lost something precious that can never be restored. For both Frodo and Nobody Owens, the place that was their home, their refuge, that they loved so much it pushed them into doing things beyond anything they could dreamed they could be capable of doing–will be a place that exists only in memory, because in reality, it, too, like the characters, fails to remain the same. I think I love those books more because of that sense loss, that touch of bitter reality to an otherwise sweet and satisfying ending.

    • What a lovely explanation for when only a bittersweet ending really feels appropriate. In some ways, those stories are so epic and full of loss that if everything had been sunshine and happiness at the end, it wouldn’t have felt sincere. Thanks, Rachael!

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  3. #6 Christa Parrish. I just LOVE Home Another Way. It made me want to be a better writer. I’d ask how she got started as a writer and if she had any tips for us newbies. 🙂 #10 Judy Blume. I hated to read what others told me I HAD to read. (I also couldn’t stand Catcher in the Rye!) But when I stumbled on Judy Blume’s work, it felt like a friend I sat next to in class. (And #8 made me laugh. I grew up watching my Dad do this and learned at an early age to research and really know the subject I’m claiming to know.)

  4. #5 – I do love happy predictable endings. But if the book is well-written with a great plot and characters, I can handle a surprise not-so-happily-ever-after ending. For instance, the book Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix was an excellent book with an ending that I didn’t see coming.

    • There’s nothing wrong with an ending that you can predict because it’s the only thing that feels emotionally satisfying…and I think you’re right on in saying that it takes a lot of skill to pull off a surprise bittersweet one, but it’s exciting when it happens!

      Amy Green
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  5. Yes, Catcher in the Rye was a chore to read. DId not at all like the MC. Whiny, spoiled brat who accomplished nothing. I thought after I was out of school that maybe I had been too immature to appreciate the book’s greatness. Read it again. Nope. Still an annoying waste of time. 😛

  6. I have always loved to read. Almost any genre. But #3 would be Amish stories. I’ve read a couple and although they seem to be very popular, I find that I don’t enjoy them. They all seem to center around the same plot and narrow story line.

  7. #6: Dora Saint – pen name Miss Read. Most people are probably not familiar with her many books about life in small English villages. They are absolutely delightful and I highly suggest them. Not really sure what I’d want to ask her, but I’d love to have met someone who could write like she did and keep me entertained over and over again. Author Jan Karon even said that Miss Read had influence on her writing.

  8. #10 What turned me on to reading at age 8 – I would take a bus (alone) to the “big city” Grand Rapids, MI, walk to the “big” library and fill my arms with as many as I could carry on the bus, with all either Grace Livingston Hill books, and/or HORSE stories and/or NURSE stories., Eventually, after marriage we raised horses, and I also became a registered nurse. AND I read constantly & have a book club, “Inspirations from Christian Fiction”. Also I worked in our local public library (after being a volunteer for 6 yrs.) and became the librarian in our church library – also after being a volunteer for 8+ years.

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