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Love to hear what you're reading, how you choose, how often/where you meet, etc.
I participate in three (yes, in need of 10-step program): one neighborhood one where we rotate hosting and the host chooses the book (our list is here) and two store ones, where I just read and show up and blab. (Well, blab, intelligently, I hope!)
So we're people from all over the world, and we read whatever we want. We tell the others what we're reading, and we discuss it in a yahoo group on the Internet.
That's a book club, isn't it?
There are 12 women. Ages range from early 40s to 72. Retired, programmers, bookstore managers, farmers, teachers, health care workers, legal aides, office workers, librarians. Single, widowed, divorced, married. Women with kids, women who've never had kids. Mostly Democratic and/or liberal, but we don't discuss politics TOO often. Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Wiccan.
We meet every 13 months to pick books. At that meeting, each woman gets to present one or more books for "her" book. If it's one book, that's the book that the bookclub reads. If there's more than one book, opinions are solicited and one book is chosen in whatever group dynamic works for that exact moment in time - no strict rules. So we each get a book of our own choosing. Some choose books they've read and liked, some of us (me included) always pick a book we haven't read but think we and the group would appreciate/enjoy. We then create a schedule for the books, which includes when that book is to be read and who will be hostess for that meeting. Usually the person hosting the meeting is not the book's leader. So there's a 12-month schedule by month by book/leader by hostess. Sometimes something comes up and people will switch. We're all very good at e-mail.
Each woman gets to conduct the meeting about her book in the way she sees fit - we have several Very Strong and Opinionated Women who we keep having to smack down and prevent from taking control, but so far we've been successful. We're always vigilant, however; as recently as our last choosing meeting one of the Very Opinionated Women wanted to have a "theme" for the year and make us all pick books related to the theme. We shut her down quickly. She's also the one who wanted to restrict genres because she thought some genres were a waste of her time. We stopped that one too. Each of us gets to pick a book SHE wants without hindrance.
Each hostess gets to provide as much or as little food/drink as she wishes. Some make dinners, some buy snacks. There's always wine and something non-alcoholic. We live as far as 20 miles apart, so there's carpooling and designated drivers. We meet the first Sunday of every month, with exceptions for holidays or special events. Those meetings get moved to the 2nd Sunday.
Some books are hits, some are duds, sometimes the discussions are lively and involved, sometimes they're rather short and we discuss other things. I have found that the most interesting discussions are when several people love a book and several people hate a book. Lots of interesting points get brought up.
Here's our 2011-2012 list:
Lark and Termite Jayne Anne Phillips *
Carry Me Across The Water Ethan Canin *
Understanding Comics Scott McCloud **
She's Not There Jennifer Finney Boylan (my book, FYI) **
Peace Like a River Leif Enger **
The Shallows Nicholas Carr **
March Geraldine Brooks *
One Thousand White Women Jim Fergus *
Mistress Shakespeare Karen Harper *
Room Emma Donoghue March's book
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
* abandoned or read and didn't like
** read and liked
I really like the way our bookclub works - I've read a lot of messages about people unhappy with their bookclubs. I think I'm fortunate. And this is our 15th year, so we're doing something right - at least for us!
It was THE highlight of my year, hands down. I loved that class. There were only 5 of us, but I never missed a class and it was so fulfilling.
Can book clubs do that?
The difference was that I already knew I needed a nudge to read those classics, so I picked the class for that reason. Book clubs seem more random. I might get annoyed at that.
may be the best book you ever read. I'm so glad your book club picked it in spite of its length.