I want Ann Hodgman to attend my next book group. In this week’s New Yorker, Hodgman has published a set of 12 questions that are suitable for any book club and any book, whether you’ve read it or not.
Start attendees off with Question 2, asking if the book is fiction or nonfiction and requesting support from lines of jacket copy.
Or jump right into character relationships, particularly those of title selector, Margy MacDougal, and her husband, Eric, or her disappointment in her college-age daughter.
Be sure to contemplate setting. Ponder if the “powder room will have one of those wick-diffuser things in a bottle, or a scented candle.” Next move on to the presence of food. Discuss the mystery ingredient in the tea sandwiches on the piano and delve deeper into the meaning of peanut allergies.
Compare this month’s selection with previous reading selections and wonder, aloud, when someone is going to choose a book that isn’t such a “downer.”
Close the discussion by asking all members what they think will happen next. If no one answers, jump to that perennial favorite, who will play the protagonists in the movie.