A book club meeting isn't complete without a lively discussion, but how can you make sure members are encouraged to contribute to the conversation? Regardless if the host is always the same or different every time you get together, it's important for the group to determine what the host's responsibilities will be. Will this person provide the group with a list of discussion questions and moderate the conversation? In addition to these tasks, will he or she take notes during the meeting to keep on file? (Notes can be helpful to a club if the group ever wants to refer back to a particular meeting and compare and contrast various books.) While the host has a job to fulfill, members should also come prepared with a list of questions and talking points. Try not to wait until the last minute to do this -- it's easiest to stay organized with thoughts and questions by marking pages and writing notes as you read.
Another great way to spark interest between meetings is to use the convenience of the Internet to your advantage. Members can share polls, book reviews and interviews with the author through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. Compare or contrast a book's characters or themes to current events by sending a link or newspaper clipping to members by e-mail. Some book clubs even start a blog, message board or chat room to have a designated place to congregate online and discuss a book before a meeting takes place. Just be sure to double-check what page fellow members have dog-eared before you type -- you don't want to spoil a juicy part of the story for someone else!
Finally, members of a book club should always strive to read the entire book or a predetermined set of chapters before a meeting -- after all, this is what a book club is all about! Even if you dislike a particular work or find it difficult to read, be honest and share your opinion with the rest of the group. It's practically guaranteed that no one is going to like every book that's selected, but explaining why the story made an unfavorable impression will make the discussion far more interesting than if everyone were to share the same exact feelings.