Books! Books! Books!

NCRL's Book Groups

Paula Walters - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lake Wenatchee Book Club, from 2007 ongoing

Lake Wenatchee Book Group meets once a month, in the evening, in our members’ homes. We’ve been getting together since 2007.

We started with one rule: the gathering was not to become an eating and drinking club. Although we enjoy our hosts’ generosity, and do nibble and sip, we are there to discuss books. We socialize for one half hour as we gather, then we discuss the book: there are also no side discussions.

We generally have our book list sketched out five or six months in advance. We choose our books rather informally. Usually someone has read the book, or read a book review. We try for a certain amount of balance and a certain amount of diversity in our choices: popular/classic, fiction/nonfiction, genre/literary, and now we have an evening scheduled with a choice from juvenile fiction, enhanced by our own favorites from childhood. Before one December, a member suggested a poetry reading aloud rather than a book discussion; we tried it, we liked it, and we’ve done it in December every year since. I think we all would say that the real pleasure of that month is the search for the poems. In our busy time, immersion in poetry is a real luxury.

The person advocating the book often also facilitates the discussion: that means finding out information about the author, and having a few questions to ask should the discussion lag. Often the discussion has no evident facilitator. A very lengthly book (Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, or Trollope’s The Way We Live Now are examples) may be divided in half and discussed over two meetings.

We also have a fall-back position of three questions. We seem to use it if the conversation wanders, or is sluggish, or if the book seems like it will be difficult. The procedure is for each member to write down and put a question about the book that s/he would like to hear answered in a hat. Then we go around the participant circle three times: 1) each member identifies the most memorable part of the book for him/her, and says why; 2) each member draws a question out of the hat, and answers it; 3) each member says whether or not s/he liked the book, and why. Frequently the conversation livens so much that we do not get to #3, or even #2. On occasion, when a movie is available, we have shortened the discussion and viewed parts of the cinematic version.

Our group’s regulars are 5 men and 7 women, scattered in age from late 40s to late 70s. We come from a variety of family origins and a variety of life experiences. We are politically and religiously diverse. We have a couple of occasional members, who come depending on book choice, and some ‘lurkers’ who receive our e-mail postings but do not attend (perhaps they will some day). We all live in the same neighborhood, if a neighborhood stretches ten or so miles in all directions.

I think that the diversity of our group keeps our reading fresh and interesting, and our conversation dynamic. We have read Westerns (‘guy’ book), novels of manners (‘girl’ book), science fiction (‘nerd’ book), mysteries (‘popular’ book), classics (‘literary’ book), and current issues (‘politico’ book). We are careful not to become focused too much on one type of writing, and to appeal to the interest of each and all of our members, from time to time.

I think that for all of our members, book group night is a ‘regular’ on the schedule that other events get scheduled around. I know how much I look forward each month to the assurance of getting together with my friends.

I have asked our book club members to write something about their club that I can publish on my blog.  Thank you Lake Wenatchee Book Club members for sharing.  North Central Regional Library has over 300 book clubs.  I think that is amazing.  There is an average of ten members in each club.  That is a lot of people that love to get together and discuss books.  If you are not in a book club and would like to start a club please contact me.  Contact information is on NCRL's web site.  Click on How Do I and then click on Book Clubs. 

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