Book Clubs. What a Nice Thing!

I've been meaning to comment about how much fun it is to be in a book club now for several months. Of course the term itself is really broad, including national umbrella organizations such as the Oprah Book Club, local library book clubs, church book clubs, and individual groups of people who meet in members' homes.

All are good. All expose the participants to books that otherwise they might not even know about. All have some degree of social connectivity. All include some form of discussion and interaction. All are based on the collective love of reading, and that's the key.

Reading is one of the main ways to continue life-long learning. After all, the formal education we receive really is a foundation to teach us how to learn. The day we leave our final classroom, whether it's in high school, college, or another structured format, is the day we need to continue to learn. Otherwise, we will forever be young, to put it poetically. To put it more bluntly, we will be capped at that level in many ways.

Some of the most interesting experiences I had with my first book, "Reunion," involved having it selected by book clubs in the Austin, TX area and to be invited to appear at their meeting for discussions. It's been a couple of years, but as I recall there were five book clubs and they were mostly, but not entirely, women's groups. One met in a church (mixed men and women, usually married couples); one was a library group, all women; three met in homes (one younger women, one older women-mostly retired, one retired couples). In addition, my men's book club agreed to read an intermediate draft and commented by email (to avoid embarrassing me in person!) with useful feedback.

Like many of you, the demands of my job were hard, and although I tried to read, it was hard to carve out the time outside of travel and work preparation. But I did to some extent. However two years after my retirement (at age sixty), I was invited to join a wonderful book club. It has changed my life in many ways, all positive. There are thirteen of us, and we keep the club somewhat small to encourage candid discussions and yet have enough members so that if a few are away, we still have a solid group for discussion. We take August off, both to allow for vacation travel, as many people here in Central Texas manage to vamoose to cooler climes in at least part of that hot month, and to do "other" reading. So including the "off month," we rotate roughly every fourteen months and the member who hosts also picks the selections. Nearly every month, one fiction and one non-fiction book are selected, so it's a pretty steep challenge to read every selection every month. But the rule is that you must come to the meetings, and try to read as many as possible. A surprising number of the members do manage to read most of the books.

Hosts generally have simple food, but enough to dilute the very ample supplies of red wine. At times, we almost resemble a drinking club that also reads a lot! But on a more serious note, the discussions are frank and freewheeling, but always respectful and thoughtful. All in all, my book club is one of the best things ever in my life. I hope that everyone gets involves in a club if possible. You will find it informational as well as socially and intellectually beneficial. Fun too!


Please feel free to post a comment here on the blog, or mail me directly at <> with any comments. Please do recommend “Contact Sport” to your friends. Also, I would be happy to appear at any book club within two or so hours from Austin to discuss “Reunion” or “Contact Sport.”

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