Practices of Productive Adult Book Clubs


  • Richard Beach,

  • Steven Yussen


This article examines two adult book club members’ responses to literary texts over a 23-month period to identify practices that contribute to productive book club participation. Members were interviewed regarding their book selection procedures, preparation for and perceptions of the discussions, and what they valued about the discussions. Discussions were analyzed in terms of book club members drawing on their knowledge and expertise to interpret texts, developing topics based on the number of different turns per topic, and adopting “point-driven” versus “story-driven” stances. Three basic factors are identified as contributors to productive book club participation: (1) the use of codified, vetted selection procedures; (2) collaborative sharing of knowledge and expertise to provide insights into books in ways that transcend members’ individual responses; and (3) the development of discussion topics through building on members’ interpretations.