My dear friend Jenny O’ and I have been fast friends and book buddies since college, but we have yet to do a formal buddy read together. I don’t know why it’s taken us this long to do it (we’ve known each other for almost 10 years now), but we’re finally starting Buddy Reads!
You can find all of our Buddy Reads on the blog mentioned below, or by searching for the tag “Buddy Read” on the blog. The books that we read together will feature joint book reviews (so long as I can convince Jenny O’ to help me write one); otherwise, my book review will feature some highlights of the discussions we had about the book.
I hope you enjoy our Buddy Reads as much as we do!
SD + JO’ Buddy Reads
- The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli
- A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
- A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
What is a Buddy Read?
A Buddy Read is where you and your buddy read a book together. You can do this in a formal or informal manner.
Formal Buddy Read: You and your buddy read a book together, break it into certain sections, and develop discussion questions for each section. Each section must include a break for discussion.
Informal Buddy Read: You and your buddy read a book together, without any set discussion questions and possibly without any set breaks. You and your buddy simply share your thoughts on the book.
What Are the Benefits of a Buddy Read?
Read New Books and New Genres: Buddy Reading gives you the opportunity to read books you might not normally read on your own.
Intellectual Stimulation: Knowing that I will have to have a conversation about a section of a book, that will require me to offer analysis and specific references to the book, forces me to pay more attention to what I’m reading and to read more critically. This is a great way to read that you don’t always get when you read alone!
Nurture Your Friendships: Reading and discussing a book with friends is a great way to nurture that relationship!
What Sorts of Discussion Questions Can I Use for Buddy Reads?
Here are some generic discussion questions that you can use for almost any type of book:
- What was your initial reaction to the book? Did it hook you immediately, or did it take some time to get into?
Before diving into the heavier plot points or contesting the ending, start your book buddy discussion off at the beginning of the book by finding out everyone’s first impression. It will give you a jumping off point to discuss what about the selection kept you turning the pages, and what made it difficult to get through, all information that will help you pick an even better book next time around.
- Do you think the story was plot-based or character driven?
Another general question that will get people thinking about the book as a whole, discussing whether the book is all about the characters or all about the plot will help frame the remainder of your conversation. From here, you can either dive into a deeper discussion of character flaws or move on to plot holes, depending on where you and your book buddy land.
- What was your favorite quote/passage?
One of my favorite part of discussing books is finding out which parts of the book stuck out to other people, especially in terms of quotations. Asking your buddy to read their favorite part out loud will not only give you a chance to hear the story again, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn more about your book buddy, and perhaps interpret a scene from the book in a whole new way.
- What made the setting unique or important? Could the story have taken place anywhere?
In many books, the setting is a significant part of the story, even acting as a character itself. Use this question to explore what made the setting of your reading selection so important, and how it affected the events of the story.
- Did you pick out any themes throughout the book?
I know what you’re thinking, this sounds too much like an essay question from your high school literature class, but in reality, it’s the perfect open-ended question than can generate some great conversation.
- Any “If/then” Questions
Use the “If… then…” model when it comes to formulating book-specific questions, like “If the protagonist chose her other love interest, how might the book have been different?” or “If So-and-So had lived, do you think the ending would have changed?” Your options are limitless.
- How credible/believable did you find the narrator to be? Did you feel like you got the “true story?”
Whenever you discuss a story from a book, its important to consider who told that story. Is it a narrator who you can trust and rely on, or do they have ulterior motives in the way they tell it? Unreliable narrators are among the most intriguing characters to discuss, so use this question as a starting point to really explore them.
- How did the characters change throughout the story? How did your opinion of them change?
The best king of stories feature dynamic characters who change throughout the book. Ask your book buddy about which characters from your reading selection grew and changed throughout the book, and who stayed the same. Follow up by trying to figure out what changes you liked, which you didn’t, and which changes you were left waiting for, holding your breath.
- How did the structure of the book affect the story?
Another question like the ones you used to dread in English class, talking about the actual structure of a book — the timeline, the viewpoints, the syntax — can be more revealing than you think.
- Which character did you relate to the most and what was it about them that you connected with?
A fun question that is sure to get a diverse list of answers, this is a good way to not only dive into your reading selection more, but an opportunity to learn about your book buddy.
- How did you feel about the ending? What did you like, what did you not like, and how do you wish it had been different?
A simple opinion-based question, asking how people feel about the ending is a great way to start healthy debates with your book buddy. Some people will like the ending and be satisfied by the way things wrapped up, but inevitably, someone will be displeased. Buckle up, because that’s when the good discussion really gets going.
- Did the book change your opinion or perspective about anything? Do you feel different now than you did before you read it?
As corny as it may sound, books do have the power to change lives and influence people (this is part of what makes them so wonderful!). Have a discussion with your book buddy about the ways your reading selection has changed each of you. You might be surprised to hear how inspired, empowered, enraged, or even educated your friend is from a single reading experience.
- If the book were being adapted into a movie, who would you want to see play what parts?
A popular question to end the discussion off with, talking about possible adaptations is always a fun game of make-believe. By discussing possible casting choices for a movie adaption, you can learn how others saw the characters in their minds versus how you created them in your own. It’s a great question that is sure to turn into a lively debate.