The host's job is to make everyone feel comfortable and act accepting of ideas. The host must make sure members who attend meetings have drinks, food, adequate restroom facilities, pens, paper, light, and comfortable places to sit -- in a quiet environment. The host should keep the conversation moving and act as intermediary when conflict arises. The host should set the tone and make sure people are not often interrupted, talked-over or ignored. The focus of the meeting should be on the books and having everyone participate in the discussion.
1. Toss only one question at a time out to the group. who, what, when, where, how and why -- are the basic questions.
2. Select a number of questions and write each question down on a piece of paper.
3. Perhaps use a prompt (an object) related to the story to get people talking. Seeing props can help stimulate members' thinking about some aspect of the story. It's adult show-and-tell. Think in terms of maps, photographs, paintings, food, apparel, a music recording, or a film.
4. Pick out a specific passage from the book -- a description, an idea, a line of dialogue --and ask members to comment on that passage. Consider how a passage reflects a character...or the work's central meaning...or members' lives or personal beliefs.
5. Choose a primary character and ask members to comment on him or her. Think about character traits, motivations, how he/she affects the story's events and characters, or revealing quotations.
6. Play a literary game. Say words chosen from the book as a kind of "free association" for the group.
7. Distribute hand-outs to everyone in order to refresh memories or to use as talking points. Identify the primary characters and summarize the plot. Then ask for reactions.
8. Recite a review from the newspaper, magazine or on-line before the discussion begins and ask members to accept or reject the review's point of view.