Book Club Discussion Questions

I’ve been posting book club discussion questions on this blog almost since I started it, but for whatever reason I’ve never made an index. Here’s that index now. I’ve done book clubs for adults, teens/young adults, and kids so there’s something for (almost) everyone here.

Within each category, I’ve arranged books alphabetically by the author’s last name. I’ve also indicated the genre of each book and provided a list of major discussion points for each. This last bit is intended both to help you if you’re looking for a book to discuss and to double as trigger warnings. I’ve also starred a few of the books that I personally found particularly rewarding (yes, I had more control in picking the YA books; that’s why there are a lot more stars there).

I wrote more of these when I was only working part time. I keep meaning to get back to them and do more, but I can only do so much with my current hours.

If there’s a book that you would like me to discuss, let me know! I’ll make time!

Adult Book Club

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

  • genre: dystopian fiction
  • racism, sexism, uncertainty, humanity, isolation, homophobia, social divides, marriage, family dynamics, fear

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  • genre: dystopian fiction
  • feminism, sexism, sex abuse, consent, governmental corruption, power dynamics, systematic oppression, fascism

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

  • genre: dystopian fiction
  • feminism, sexism, sex abuse, consent, governmental corruption, power dynamics, systematic oppression, fascism

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

  • genre: contemporary realistic fiction
  • aging, grief, death, suicide, found family, bigotry, intergenerational friendship

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

  • genre: magical realism/fantasy
  • intersectional feminism, social class, education, sexual violence, death, poverty, race, gender roles, drugs, abuse

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

  • genre: historical fiction
  • family, religious oppression, death, grief, social class, truth/deception

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

  • genre: science fiction
  • marriage, alternate universes, family vs. career, regret, morality, individuality

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

  • genre: topical contemporary fiction
  • immigration, racism, sexism, violence against women, rape, gang violence, death, grief, nationalism

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

  • genre: topical historical fiction
  • pandemic, sexism, war, childbirth, religious hypocrisy, abuse, LGBTQ+, health, PTSD

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

  • genre: thriller
  • child abuse, rape, consent, murder, homophobia, good vs. evil

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

  • genre: historical fiction
  • gender roles, marriage, family, motherhood, parenting, death, suicide, abuse, marital abuse, the Great Depression, money, social class

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

  • genre: contemporary realistic fiction
  • death, grief, adoption, survivor’s guilt, privilege, family, technology, truth, race, sexism, narrative structure

Inland by Téa Obreht

  • genre: historical fiction
  • narrative structure, marriage, sexism, racism, history

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

  • genre: historical fiction
  • abuse, murder, racism, systematic racism, Jim Crow, history, systematic discrimination, child abuse, hypocrisy, policing, education, narrative structure

Young Adult Book Club

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • genre: YA contemporary realistic fiction
  • abuse, coming of age, feminism, trauma, unreliable narration, family

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

  • genre: YA contemporary romance
  • coming of age, queer culture, religion, narrative structure

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

  • genre: YA magical realism/fantasy
  • family, good vs. evil, moral ambiguity, grief, imagination, books, violence, grief

Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • genre: YA contemporary realistic fiction
  • coming of age, drugs, feminism, interpersonal relationships, death, grief, feminism, suicide

 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

  • genre: YA fantasy romance
  • classic story retelling, wealth, slavery, speciesism

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (inspired by Siobhan Dowd)

  • genre: YA magical realism
  • family, childhood vs. adulthood, grief, death, illness, moral ambiguity, American vs. British, anger, bullying

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

  • genre: YA contemporary realistic fiction
  • gender roles, sexuality, sexism, femininity, masculinity, coming of age, societal expectations, race

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  • genre: YA contemporary romance
  • coming of age, family, fiction, learning disabilities, drugs, independence, anxiety, privilege, mental illness

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • genre: topical YA contemporary realistic fiction
  • racism, systematic racism, activism, Black Lives Matter, policing, police brutality, murder, death, grief, social class, race

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • genre: YA historical fiction with light magical realism
  • WWII, death, grief, evil, war, childhood, Nazi Germany, friendship, family, policing, religious persecution, literacy

Kids’ Book Club

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

  • genre: JF magical realism
  • immortality, eternity, family, wealth, greed, education, intelligence vs. wisdom, murder, morality

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

  • genre: young readers’ memoir
  • racism, race, integration, history, bigotry, violence, segregation

Frindle by Andrew Clements

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • linguistics, free speech, celebrity

No Talking by Andrew Clements

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • girls vs. boys, respect, communication, maturity, narration style

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • family, death, grief, racism, coming of age, empathy, paranoia, feminism, gender roles, Native Americans

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

  • genre: JF magical realism/fantasy graphic novel
  • family, unhappiness, heroics, divorce, disability

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • teamwork, competition, legacy, social class, gender roles

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • success, expectations, learning disability, family, bullying, dysfunctional relationships, television, race

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

  • genre: JF contemporary realistic fiction
  • family, coming of age, narration style, wealth, secrets

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

  • genre: young readers’ nonfiction
  • Holocaust, discrimination, bigotry, death, narrative structure, religious persecution, intergenerational storytelling, history

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

  • genre: JF dystopian fiction
  • sexism, ableism, humanity, fear, governmental corruption, murder, disease, literacy, art, wealth, poverty

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

  • genre: JF mystery
  • death, murder, grief, gender roles, gambling, identity, greed, race, marriage, family, social class, wealth, life and death, childhood vs. adulthood

Holes by Louis Sachar

  • genre: JF magical realism
  • social class, poverty, family, luck, child abuse, racism, gender roles, interracial relationships, murder

I Survived Five Epic Disasters by Lauren Tarshis

  • genre: young readers’ nonfiction
  • historical catastrophes, death, hardship, childhood, survival

The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

  • genre: JF fantasy
  • family, fitting in, alienation, sexism, gender roles, secrets, intelligence vs. ignorance, good vs. evil

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

  • genre: JF/animal story
  • language, animals and humanity, friendship, death, grief, legacy, greed, expectations, compassion, miracles