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5 Bookish Conversation Starters to Get You Through Thanksgiving Dinner

TheBookWheel By TheBookWheel Published on November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it’s time for families and friends to gather around and discuss their year. This will, in all likelihood, result in a conversation about the recent election but if you come from a family with diverse political views, disagreement is sure to follow. How you choose to deal with it (battle it out, give the silent treatment, or throw up your hands in defeat) is up to you, but if you’d like to preemptively steer the conversation to something that will spark discussion and debate without being offensive (like books!), the following 5 conversation starters and talking points might offer you some relief.


The National Book Awards

Literary awards tend to be fairly non controversial dinner table conversations, but that doesn't mean you can't spark a bit of a debate.

Talking Points

  • Colson Whitehead won the award for Fiction for The Underground Railroad, the story of a slave named Cora and her journey.
  • Representative John Lewis (D-GA) won the award for his graphic novel, March: Book Three, which is Lewis’ telling of the Civil Rights Movement, of which he was a leader. Touchingly, his mugshots resurfaced over the weekend – just in time for his awards ceremony.
  • Women were, once again, underrepresented, as is the case with most literary awards.


Upcoming Adaptions

Movies are always an easy topic and if things don't go well, you can always go to the movies, instead.


Talking Points

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in theaters and Harry Potter fans should be delighted. If you can’t take the discussions, you can always head to the theaters. 
  • A Dog's Purpose, the bestselling book about a dog who comes back over and over to touch the lives of his various owners, hits theaters in January. 
  • Fifty Shades Darker is coming around Valentine’s Day and there are likely to be very strong feelings about this series.


Political Books (Not Politics)

This topic is a bit tricky and should only be used with caution - not all families will want to take this road. 


Talking Points

  • Megyn Kelly’s latest book, Settle for More, is getting spammed with fake 1-star reviews from pro-Trump supporters. Regardless of who you voted for, I think we can all agree that spamming reviews is not okay. 
  • Love and War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters, and One Louisiana Home by James Carville and Mary Matalin - Because if they can do it, you can surely make it through dinner. 
  • President Obama will surely write a book when he leaves office but the question about who will publish it is still open due to contract expirations? My guess is Simon & Schuster.


Bookish Memories

Take a trip down memory lane by discussing some of your childhood favorites. The nostalgia will surely simmer down any underlying tension. 


Talking Points

  • Favorite childhood book
  • First book you read cover to cover 
  • The first book you read to your child
  • The book you can’t wait for your child to read


Controversial Bookish Discussions

If your family thrives on debate but you want to keep it impersonal, the following controversial bookish topics will surely help you draw lines in the sand and vehemently fight for them. 


Talking Points

  • Ebooks vs. physical books
  • Rereading vs. only reading things once
  • When to put a book down without finishing it


I hope that these "safe" topics will help you survive Thanksgiving. It is, after all, a day for giving thanks for all that you have, and although the world is a crazy and contentious place, it's important to remember what (and who) matters most in life. If you come from a family where political debate is inevitable, then take a deep breath and a moment to reflect on the positive things in life before giving in to the underlying tensions and disagreements. Opinions will not change, but how you choose to battle it out after this particular election will likely set the tone for the many Thanksgivings that lie ahead.

Allison Hiltz runs the award-winning book review website, The Book Wheel, and founded the international blog roundup event, #30Authors. The Book Wheel has been featured in advertisements in the ... Show More

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