How To Talk About Books? – A Literary Journey

How to talk about books

Are you ever left in awe after turning the final page of a captivating novel, bursting with thoughts and emotions, yet find yourself at a loss for words when it comes to sharing your experience? In this post, we unlock the secrets to articulating your thoughts about books in meaningful and engaging ways.

Whether it’s a heartwarming novel, a thought-provoking non-fiction, or a thrilling mystery, every book offers a world of ideas waiting to be discussed. From framing insightful questions to sharing personal reflections, we’ll explore various techniques to enrich your discussions and connect more deeply with fellow readers. So, grab your favorite book, gather your thoughts, and delve into the delightful art of discussing books!

How To Talk About Books?

The topic of talking about books might seem self-evident to some people. But other people are intimidated by reading a book and then going to book club and talking about it. Sometimes, people aren’t sure what they’re supposed to say or how they’re supposed to say it. So I want to give you some tips on how to talk about books.

Book Talks
Book Talks

Start with an Introduction: Introduce the book you want to discuss. Share the title, author’s name, and perhaps a brief overview of the plot or genre. This sets the context for the conversation.

Express Your Opinion: Share your thoughts and feelings about the book. Discuss what you liked or disliked, and explain why. Be specific, mentioning particular aspects such as the writing style, characters, plot, or themes that resonated with you.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage others to share their thoughts by asking open-ended questions. For example:

  • What did you think of the book?
  • What were your favorite moments or characters?
  • How did the book make you feel?
  • Did you agree with the author’s message or themes?
  • Discuss Themes and Messages: Explore the deeper meanings and themes present in the book. Consider the messages conveyed and how they relate to real-life issues or personal experiences. Engage in thoughtful discussions around these topics.

Compare and Contrast: If applicable, compare the book to others you’ve read or similar works within the same genre. Discuss similarities, differences, and what sets the book apart.

Recommendations: Share recommendations for other books you feel are similar or complementary to the one discussed. Ask others for their recommendations as well. This can lead to discovering new books and expanding your reading list.

Be Respectful of Diverse Opinions: Remember that not everyone will have the same opinions or enjoy the same books. Respect differing viewpoints and engage in constructive dialogue. Listen actively and consider other perspectives.

Join or Start a Book Club: Book clubs provide a structured and social setting for discussing books. Consider joining an existing book club or starting with friends or like-minded readers. Book club meetings often involve lively discussions and the opportunity to explore different viewpoints.

Utilize Online Platforms: Engage in online communities, forums, or social media platforms focused on books and literature. Participate in discussions, share your thoughts, and connect with fellow book enthusiasts worldwide.

While talking about books, you should follow this advice:

1. Take notebooks

My first piece of advice is to take some notes as you’re reading. Review your notes and pick out a few little things you had written down, maybe questions or quotations that struck you as interesting. Whatever they are, they’re your impressions. Taking notes also helps, at least with memory.

So, if you don’t take notes, you tend to forget. Also, it makes it much harder when it’s time to have a conversation. You can’t even remember very much detail about what you read. So take a notebook that always comes with you.

2. Be confident

Another thing to try to attain in your conversations about books is being confident in asserting your ideas and being open to having somebody else change your mind about something. You can say some assertive sentences like, oh? It’s something that makes for interesting, dynamic conversation.

  • Be confident and open to change, come into play, and make for a more interesting conversation.

3. Understand the book theme

When discussing a book, try to think like a writer, not a reader. Think about things beyond what the writer wanted you to see, the plot, character, themes, dialogue, whatever it is. Think about the choices that the writer was making. I’ve talked about this many times before, but it’s one of the things that makes for a more interesting conversation. So you should not read the book for the surface as a story. You need to read it as a work of art created by a creator.

So you’ll see us making predictions that did not come to pass and trying to combine themes and figure out what held the novel together. One great thing to look at specifically when trying to do that is to look at a novel thematically.

4. Setup your intention

The best conversations and conversationalists always set the intention for the conversation. And this helps reduce awkward situations. That doesn’t happen when you set an intention. So before you say anything about any book to someone, ensure the listener is in the mood and wants to discuss the book.

Are you there to learn something about someone setting that minor intention? It helps you guide your conversation. You need that guiding drive to know what you want to discuss or ask. So set your intention before you even show up.

5. Focus on your approach & body language

You usually think about the first line when you think about the conversation. However, research shows that our first impression doesn’t happen when we hear someone. It occurs when you first see someone. So, the best conversationalist always approaches.

They almost start their conversation on the approach. When you’re about to initiate a conversation or go to someone, introducing yourself is setting yourself up. So, the best first impression happens when you have nice, open body language. You need your hands visible out of pockets, not in.

Helps with your trust cues. Then, have your shoulders down and back. So, shoulders down and back. Your smile is your opening line. Smile at someone who says it warms them upright to them going. It gets them already going. It’s like your opening line a little bit, your smile.

Conversation sparks are the nonverbal cue for curiosity and engaging someone to go. Everyone does one thing when they are super engaged: the eyebrow raise. That means you’re listening.

Bonus tip – Don’t interrupt

Don’t interrupt them. Look for the pivot when you want to be approached or talk to someone else. That’s when someone talks to each other, but their body is angled out. Their toes are angled out. That means they’re much more available to approach, and you want to do the same.

So make sure you pivot towards the room that signals people that you are open physically and literally. Be a good listener when someone talks and give them space and time to finish their opinion. It’s the best way to enjoy the conversation.

How to talk about books for students?

Talking about books with students is a rewarding and educational experience for both the teacher and the students. It encourages critical thinking, enhances comprehension skills, and fosters a love for reading. Here’s how you can effectively talk about books with students:

How to talk about books for students?
How to talk about books for students?

Start with an Engaging Introduction: Begin by introducing the book in a way that piques the student’s interest. Share a brief summary, an intriguing fact about the book or the author, or why the book is relevant to their lives or current events.

Encourage Open Discussion: Ask open-ended questions, encouraging students to express their thoughts and feelings about the book. Avoid questions with yes or no answers; ask questions requiring students to explain their reasoning or interpretations.

Connect with Personal Experiences: Encourage students to relate aspects of the book to their own experiences. This helps them to connect more deeply with the material and understand it on a personal level.

Discuss Themes and Messages: Discuss the book’s main themes, messages, or moral lessons. Ask students what they think the author is trying to convey and whether they agree.

Analyze Characters and Plot: Discuss the development of characters and the plot. Ask students about their favorite characters, motivations, and how they change throughout the story. Talk about the plot’s highs and lows and what kept them engaged (or not).

Use Creative Activities: Incorporate activities such as role-playing, drawing scenes from the book, or writing alternate endings. This can make the discussion more interactive and fun.

Incorporate Critical Thinking: Challenge students to think critically about the book. Ask them to consider different perspectives, question the author’s choices, and analyze the implications of certain events or decisions made by characters.

Compare and Contrast: If applicable, compare the book to other works the students have read, to movies, or to real-life events. This provides a broader context and deepens their understanding.

Encourage Respectful Debate: If there are differing opinions, foster a respectful environment for debate. Teach students to listen to others’ viewpoints and to present their arguments politely and thoughtfully.

Highlight Vocabulary and Writing Style: Discuss new vocabulary words, notable quotes, and the author’s writing style. This not only improves their vocabulary but also their understanding of different writing techniques.

End with a Reflection: Conclude by asking students to reflect on what they’ve learned from the book. You also ask how their perception of the book changed from beginning to end.

Recommend Similar Books: If the students enjoyed the book, recommend similar books or other works by the same author to encourage continued reading.

Examples of how to talk about books

Discussing books effectively enhances the reading experience, deepens understanding, and stimulates enjoyable and insightful conversations. Here are some examples of how to talk about books, including the different aspects you cover:

Examples of how to talk about books
Examples of how to talk about books

Example 1: Fiction Book Discussion
Book: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Plot Overview: “This novel is set in the 1930s in a small Alabama town and revolves around the trial of a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. It’s told from the perspective of a young girl named Scout.”

Character Analysis: “What are your thoughts on Atticus Finch as a father and a lawyer? How do his actions shape the story?”

Themes: “One of the central themes is racial injustice. How does the author address this theme, and what moments in the book stood out to you regarding this issue?”

Personal Connection: “Have you ever witnessed or experienced injustice like what’s depicted in the book? How did it make you feel?”

Author’s Style: “Harper Lee uses a child’s perspective to tell the story. How do you think this affects the narrative and the themes presented?”

Example 2: Non-Fiction Book Discussion
Book: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

Main Concepts: “This book covers the history of humankind from the Stone Age to the 21st century. What was one new thing you learned about human history from this book?”

Thought-Provoking Questions: “Harari discusses how agriculture was both a blessing and a curse for humanity. What are your thoughts on this?”

Agree/Disagree: “Were there any points made by Harari that you strongly agreed or disagreed with?”

Real-World Application: “How can we apply Harari’s insights about human history and behavior to today’s world?”

Author’s Perspective: “How does Harari’s background as a historian and philosopher influence his interpretation of historical events?”

Example 3: Young Adult (YA) Fiction
Book: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Plot Overview: “This story is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. It’s a story about life, death, and love.”

Character Growth: “How do Hazel and Augustus grow throughout the book? What challenges do they face?”

Emotional Impact: “Were there any parts of the book that made you particularly sad, happy, or reflective?”

Themes: “One of the themes is about making the most of our time on Earth. How do the characters embody this theme?”

Life Lessons: “What life lessons do you think this book offers, especially for young adults?”

General Tips for Talking About Books:

Start with Open-Ended Questions: This encourages deeper discussion.
Include Your Insights: Share your thoughts and experiences related to the book.
Encourage Diverse Perspectives: Be open to different interpretations and opinions.
Use Quotes from the Book: This supports points and sparks discussion.
Connect with Current Events or Personal Experiences: This makes the discussion more relatable and engaging.
End with a Summary: Summarize the key points discussed and suggest related books or topics for further exploration.

Your discussions can illuminate diverse perspectives, deepen understanding, and create lasting connections over shared literary adventures. Whether in a cozy book club, a lively online forum, or a casual conversation with friends, how you talk about books can open doors to new worlds and insights. Keep exploring, questioning, and sharing; every book you read is an opportunity to embark on a new conversational voyage. Happy reading, and even happier discussing!

Learn more: How to start a journal?

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