Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Clubs

Yesterday was something of a big day for me. Both of my book clubs met to discuss what to read for our next round of books. Having both groups meet for the same purpose with the span of a few hours offered me the opportunity to compare the two clubs and think about why I enjoy being part of two avid reading groups.

One group is made up of people with some connection to Emerson School, though we noticed yesterday that I was the only one in attendance who is currently employed at the school. This was a fluke that comes with summer activities leading us in many directions. Many of us have known each other for years and the group has grown up with some stalwart charter members. We have been in existence for at least a dozen years, probably more--I have lost count. Because we have been meeting for so many years and most of us see each other in the work setting and in other social settings, the group feels pretty comfortable about discussing almost anything. Over the years we have read from nearly every genre. There are books that we have all loved and others that we have all hated. The best books for discussion have been those with people on both ends of the continuum--some thinking we had just completed a work of literary genius while others consider the book a waste of time and brain cells. More than once we have left a meeting with minds changed about the book. More often we have gained new insights into ourselves and others. Sometimes our meetings have little discussion of the book and other times we are so eager to discuss that we barely have time to decide. Our meeting yesterday lasted for nearly five hours.

Looking at our selections for July to December, I predict we will continue to have wide ranging discussions that bring us closer together and get us excited. What more can we ask?

As we selected books to read, we were not afraid to try something new and different. Our selections range from an odd sounding dark sounding science fiction novel to a substantial biography of Alice Roosevelt. There are some that sound like fluff with a little substance and others that will be substance with a a little fluff. It makes me want to start reading right away. I did, but then set the biography aside for some things that I had checked out from the library that need to be read and returned.

My other book club is much younger and an effort to get neighborhood ladies together. I have not been as good about getting to the meetings as I would like to have been. Still, the joy of reading good books and sharing them with an interesting group of people is very evident in this group. This group does not have the common bond of being mostly a bunch of teachers which adds a different twist. This neighborhood group has the math and science folks and the literary purists and the folks somewhere in the middle. So we have read some pretty heavy science and some pretty heavy classic literature. They really keep our minds going. The discussions get just as involved as in my other book group. Each year we become more of a cohesive group and each year the pleasure of being with these women grows.

This group has chosen some good non-fiction about China and another non-fiction about sushi. We will be reading some Faulkner for the literature group and some other solid novels as well. This group tries to always have at least one selection about strong women to be read and discussed in March for International Women's Day.

The moral of all this is that I think book clubs are great. Discussing books with others is one of the best ways to make them come alive while strengthening bonds of friendship. Whether you are 6 or 65, if you have the opportunity to join a book club, I urge you to sign right up. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

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