Tuesday, May 03, 2005

1011 How to run a book club

Last night our book club had its final meeting of the 2004-2005 year and discussed Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Everyone enjoyed the book and a number have read the other books in this series by the African author. I’m not a fan of mysteries, but found this one (no mayhem or violence) quite engrossing. We always choose a small book for May, because we vote for the next year’s selection and that takes some of our time. We also try to make the December selection an easy read.

The rules are simple: you can nominate as many books as you wish, but you must have read them. We then vote for nine of the titles. Our secretary and her helper figure the tally, and nine titles are selected. Then the leaders and hostesses and helpers are decided. The discussion leader is the person who nominated the book, unless she has more than one on the list, and then she can pass it along to a volunteer willing to read and lead that discussion.

I feel fortunate to be a part of this wonderful group that has been together for 25 years (I joined in 2000 when I retired). Most are much more widely read than I. One member told me last night that she reads a book a week, plus the books she reads with her children. Because we see each other only once a month, and usually only two thirds of the group come to any one meeting, I don’t know them well. Four of us are or were librarians; probably ten or twelve are or were teachers or administrators in education; one is a lawyer, I think; one is a home schooling mom who writes on the side; some are homemakers and volunteers or assist husbands in their business.

I recommended Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and also suggested we offer it in September because of its length. That way we have the summer to prepare. I also mentioned (after it was selected) they might read The Federalist, most of which he authored with Madison and Jay, but I think that probably won’t happen. Because of its length, I had intended to skim it (cheating just a little) before recommending it, however, the author is such a terrific writer and the story so fascinating (you’d think it was fiction if you hadn’t heard about this guy in grade school), that I ended up not only reading closely, but rereading certain passages.

Here’s our list (this group has no name, to my knowledge):

September: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Leader: Norma. Hostess: Elaine. Chernow’s research.

October: Desert Queen by Janet Wallach. Leader: Carolyn C. Hostess: Judy

November: Spin Sisters by Myrna Blythe. Leader: Marti/Adrienne. Hostess: Margie

December: Miss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann B. Ross. Leader: Jill. Hostess: Carolyn A.

January: Beyond the River ; the untold story of the heroes of the underground railroad by Ann Hagedorn. Leader: Peggy. Hostess Mary Lou.

February: Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult. Leader: Elaine. Hostess: Peggy.

March: Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston. Leader: Hostess: Carolyn C.

April: The Magdalene Gospel by Mary Ellen Ashcroft. Leader: Jean. Hostess: Joni.

May: Christmas Journey by Anne Perry. Leader: Hostess: Justine

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