There’s something special about meeting regularly with people we know to talk about books. Some book groups are formed among neighbors, some by those who work together. Others start when people have young children and continue on long after those children have left home. Although the groups come in different forms, almost everyone in a book group has said that they like getting to know each other by focusing on a book’s themes or an author’s writing style.
The library hosts two monthly book groups in the Activity Room. Unless otherwise noted, the North Reading Book Discussion Club meets on the last Wednesday morning of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. The Drop-In Evening Book Group, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. Newcomers are always welcome at both groups.
I’ve attended occasional discussions at both groups. Each has its own atmosphere and approach to discussing the books. Both groups graciously set aside one month a year to discuss the title chosen for North Reading Reads. In 2011 it was the novel, March, by Geraldine Brooks.
This is the first of two blogs. First I will focus on the North Reading Book Discussion Club. Thank you to Marilyn Henderson, who has overseen the details for the Book Club since its beginning, for answering some questions. Here is a list of the titles the club chose for 2011-2012.
Q: Marilyn, how would you describe the North Reading Book Discussion Club?
A: The North Reading book club has been meeting on the last Wednesday of the month for over 15 years and the group has read over 170 books during this time. Throughout the years, the club has maintained an average of 12 members and there are five founding members who still faithfully attend every meeting. One original member drives from North Andover and has very rarely missed a meeting. An interesting fact is that during all these years, the weather has caused only one cancellation over the years.
Q: You have a serious and dedicated core group, don’t you?
A: People have come and gone due to relocation, illness and death but new people keep joining. There is a loyalty to the group and a mutual respect for one another’s views which is evident during the discussions.
Q: How does the group choose the books each month?
A: Each June, everyone submits the titles of several books which they would like the members to read the following year. Several factors come into play at this time. First of all, if too many have already read the book, it may be passed over. Another key is whether there are enough copies in the MVLC/Evergreen system so that everyone can obtain a copy and not to have to purchase a book. The aim of the book selection is to get a good variety of books to read each year and that will include mysteries, biographies, fiction and a classic. This yearly list has been called “eclectic” and it seems to work.
Q: You have been the administrator of this group all these years. I know you have a gavel, to keep order, when necessary. Do you also lead the discussion each month?
A: Each month, the person who has chosen the book under discussion facilitates the meeting. He or she will research the author’s life, any awards, and other books written by them and perhaps mention current events that might touch on the book. After this brief introduction, the discussion is open to the members and each one in turn talks about the book and after each member has had a turn, the meeting is open to general discussion.
Q: Have there been particular favorite authors or titles?
A: Works by David McCullough, Willa Cather, and Edith Wharton come to mind.
Q: Was there any book that provoked more discussion than others?
A: Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Outliers.” There were strong opinions about this book. Some liked it a great deal; others did not.
Q: Can you explain why you all joined this book club and remain committed to attending every month?
A: Our unanimous answer is that we now read books we never would have read otherwise.
In the next blog you'll learn about the Evening Drop-In Book Group.
North Reading Readers--are you in a book club? Please tell us about your group, its history, some of the titles you’ve read, and any memorable moments.