How did your group get started?
Our group started in 1994 over dinner at my house. Several of us had mentioned that we wanted to have a book club, so I invited friends who love to read. We've met monthly ever since. Our group now has seven members, all but one an original member. We come from different vocations and locations, which we find enriches our discussions. Our members are an elected official, a counselor, a real estate investor, a cabinet-shop owner, a language teacher, a court-reporting teacher, and a member in video production. Another difference that makes our group tick is that we are six rabid Democrats and one Republican. (We do try to let the Republican speak from time to time!) We all share, however, a love of reading and a commitment to a serious discussion.
We actually have another name for our club, but we don't use it in public. We started out as the "throbbing members," which refers to our jokes about romance novels. The husband of one of our members loves to ask her in public what the name of her book club is. We never officially adopted either name.
How do you organize your meetings?
We find it works well to keep the same meeting time. We meet on the second Friday of the month and have not changed that pattern except for a recent experiment with Sunday afternoons. Having a set date helps each of us keep the date free. We take turns hosting the meetings, with the host responsible for finding study questions. At one point, we felt we were degenerating into a social group, so the questions help keep our discussion on track. We start by taking turns to say, brieifly, why or why not we liked the book. We all agree that we get a lot out of the discussions and sometimes like a book more after the meeting.
Each month we bring suggestions for the next month's selection. There isn't a set pattern, but we come up with something based on recommendations, book awards, the Internet, and Bookmarks. Each member who brings suggestions presents them, and we vote.
What are your group's favorite books?
Talking about the best books we've read is difficult since we've been reading for so long and don't all agree on our favorites. When I polled our members, each of us revealed our favorite and "awful" books. Some titles showed up on several members' "favorite" lists, including The History of Love by Nicole Krauss; The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; and The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer...