Non-fiction book questions
1. If your book offers a cultural portrait—of life in another country, or in a different region of your own country, start with questions a, b, and c ...
a. What does the author celebrate or criticize in the culture? Consider family traditions, economic and political structures, the arts, language, food, religious beliefs.
b. Does the author wish to preserve or reform the culture? If reform, what and how? Either way—by instigating change or by maintaining the status quo—what would be gained or what would be at risk?
c. How does the culture differ from yours? What was most surprising, intriguing, difficult to understand? After reading the book, have you gained a new perspective—or did the book affirm your prior views?
2. Does the book offer a central idea or premise?
What are the problems or issues raised? Are they personal, spiritual, societal, global, political,
economic, medical, scentific?
3. Do the issues affect your life? How so—directly,
on a daily basis, or more generally? Now or
sometime in the future?
4. What evidence does the author give to support
the book's ideas? Does he/she use personal
observations and assessments? Facts? Statistics?
Opinions? Historical documents? Scientific research?
Quotations from authorities?
5. Is the evidence convincing? Is it relevant or
logical? Does it come from authoritative sources?
(Is the author an authority?) Is the evidence
6. Some authors make assertions, only to walk away
from them—without offering explanations. It's
maddening. Does the author use such unsupported
7. What kind of language does the author use? Is it
objective and dispassionate? Or passionate and earnest? Is it polemical, inflammatory, sarcastic?
Does the language help or undercut the author's
8. Does the author—or can you—draw implications
for the future? Are there long- or short-term
consequences to the problems or issues raised in
the book? If so, are they positive or negative?
Affirming or frightening?
9. Does the author—or can you—offer solutions to
the problems or issues raised in the book? Who
would implement those solutions? How probable is
10. Does the author make a call to action to
readers—individually or collectively? Is that call
realistic? Idealistic? Achievable? Would readers be
able to affect the desired outcome?
11. Are the book's issues controversial? How so?
And who is aligned on which sides of the issues?
Where do you fall in that line-up?
12. Can you point to specific passages that struck
you pesonally—as interesting, profound, silly or
shallow, incomprehensible, illuminating?
13. Did you learn something new reading this
book? Did it broaden your perspective about a
difficult personal issue? Or a societal issue? About
another culture in another country... or about an
ethnic / regional culture in your own country?