How did your book group get started?
The Fab Five Book Club was Jane's idea. She envisioned a group that would meet at her house (giving her adequate motivation to clean it!) and have a good time without staying too late. At our first few meetings three years ago, we discussed our tentative reading list. We all decided to avoid anything too dark, too long, too true-to-life, and too "international." Our decision ruled out everything but Nancy Drew and, possibly, some small-appliance instruction manuals. Needless to say, our reading boundaries have expanded. At our most recent book-choice meeting, we selected two nonfiction books, and every other book we read is dark, long, and/or international. We always stay too late.
The Fab Five's members are in their 30s and 40s, and our group boasts a host of interpersonal connections: coworkers, cousins, former college roommates, and two from the same hometown in Wisconsin. Three of our five became close friends at church while living in Cincinnati. Three of us also have sons in the same class at elementary school.
How do you structure your meetings?
Comparing notes on the books we've read is the starting point of our discussions. It invariably leads to any number of subjects--and even questions, such as, "Who is more inspiring, Johnny Depp or Aragorn?" Sandy argues that Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River, may just top them both. (Enger has visited Grand Rapids a couple of times, and he's just so cute and nice! Our estimation of him grew even more when he told the audience that he and his wife read aloud to each other on their honeymoon.) We usually meet at Jane's house, because it's so calm and relaxing. She also likes to serve us wine, an arrangement we all find acceptable.
The nights we spend choosing our reading lists and scheduling our reading are serious business. Yet these nights are the highlight of our group. We choose six books and schedule six months of reading at a time. We all bring books and spread them across the floor. But we've recently decided that we might be almost as happy with our group if we met just twice a month to choose reading lists. That is, we could meet to talk about books without actually having read them. After all, reading does take a lot of time.
Yet, in reality, we all love to read. When making our lists, we always add a classic and a young-adult novel to each six-month cycle.
What have been your best book discussions?
We loved the long...