The Discussability Score: What is it?

Two factors feed into the Discussability Score…

  1. How engaging was our book club’s discussion? Did we discuss the book in depth and/or at length?
  2. How discussable do I think this book would be for other book clubs?
The Discussability Score is on a 5-point scale
1 = Nobody has a word to say.
2 = You talk about the book for 5 minutes before someone mentions upcoming vacation plans and you never allude to the book ever again in your natural life.
3 = The book generates some discussion, but none of it is very zippy or interesting. But you’ve done your duty and now you can drink some wine and feel virtuously intellectual because you talked about a book.
4 = You all have interesting things to say about the book, and you’re all excited to be talking about it. The discussion goes on for quite a while, and it’s lively.
5 = Your group keeps talking and talking. Eventually, you talk about your vacation plans, but you keep leaping back to the book. And this thing has an afterlife… you’ll bring it up again and again at future book club meetings.

Books with a Discussability Score of 5

Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

Discussability Score: 5
Because: We kept talking about the characters’ motivations and their social circumstances, and the fact that the book has surprising depths that creep up on a person
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Discussability Score: 5
Because: We talked and talked and talked about this book — the motivation of the characters, whether we could identify with the main character, how it reflected the era when it was written, and how it fit into the suspense genre
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Discussability Score: 5
Because: Either you are an introvert, or you know lots of them. And this book makes it cool to be introverted, and it validates many of the tendencies we true introverts possess. This one’s gonna live on in future discussions.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Discussability Score: 5
Because: This book prompted so much discussion, we started talking about it literally the moment the final person arrived at my door. She still had her coat on, and we were off to the races.
The first thing we marveled out was the high level of discomfort the book gave us. The way evil invades the home… Dang, people. That’s some serious menace. Each of us had to stop our reading for a while, to recover from the initial horror of it. So: great book to read in the Halloween season.
And we discussed Gaiman’s lyrical style, his narrative abilities (for us audiobook listeners), his nuanced writing of women characters, and his remarkable way he clearly evokes childhood.
So… I converted my entire book club into Gaiman fanatics with the reading of this book. If that alone had been the result of my selecting this book for our discussion, that would be enough.
Books with a Discussability Score of 4
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Discussability Score: 4
Because: We talked about the things that surprised us in this book, and also about the things we would’ve done differently if we were writing the book
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Discussability Score: 4
Because: While we’d all read it before, we each re-read Jane Eyre with new eyes. It’s a nuanced novel, and there was plenty to discuss, particularly about character development and plot believability.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Discussability Score: 4
Because: Everyone’s seen the movie, now read the book. It’s one of those. And there’s a whole conversation about the symbolism in the book, and the strong central female character who leads a band of misfits who come together to create a powerful team.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
Discussability Score: 4
Because: This book is a delightful blend of sociology and humor. It actually offered more of a compelling look at modern dating and romance than some of us had expected. The thing we kept coming back to was the statistic about the size of the dating pool. Back only 50 years or so, people tended to marry people who lived within a very small radius (as in: on the same block). These days, the world’s our oyster.
Plus: Aziz Ansari narrates the audiobook. If you like the guy on Parks & Rec, you’re gonna like this book.

Books with a Discussability Score of 3

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Discussability Score: 3
Because: We discussed the charm of this story and admired its many fine attributes. One book club member wished there were zombies in the story, to add some pizzazz. (That person was not me.)