Elcan Book Group: submitted by Mary Bass from Richardson, Texas.

Position:Book group - Discussion

How would you describe your group?

Other than one member, the spouse of an employee, ours is an eclectic group of coworkers employed by ELCAN, a division of Raytheon Corporation. We are linked by our strong interest in reading and our ongoing quest for good friends. Without the bond of books, this mix of personalities from multidisciplinary work areas of Administration, Finance, Engineering, and Manufacturing might not otherwise have had the pleasure of getting to really know each other.

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How did the group get started?

The ELCAN Book Group was formed in September 2003 by approval from the Employee Advisory Council. It was a spin-off from a book swap approved by the Council the year before.

Our procedure ...

Each member presents a title, author, and synopsis to the club's coordinator, which are shared clubwide. We then rank the books in the order each of us would like to read them. Our coordinator uses a spreadsheet to calculate the final order, and then we proceed to read. Mostly, we meet every three weeks. But if a book is of great length or is conceptually intricate, we allow four weeks.

What are you meetings like?

They are "brown-bag," lunch-hour meetings. Members munch away while discussing the book. The moderator for each meeting, the member who chose the current book, introduces a list of questions. Our discussion examines all facets of the book and consists of expository comments and rhetorical discourse as well as answers to probing questions.

What are some of the most popular books you've read?

Some of our most popular titles include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

What have been your best discussions?

Certainly one of our deeper and more enjoyable discussions concerned The Kite Runner. Part of the reason we found this tale so engrossing was our ability to align our thoughts with recent world events as they were piped into our homes via nightly news broadcasts. When Hosseini's characters speak of their fear of the Taliban, we could more fully understand that fear. When they show us the strong family love that conquers all--contrasted with the dedication of servants-as-family versus the harshness of those who impose their will upon the innocent--we were able to voice despair and sympathy. The idea of Hosseini-as-writer and...

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