Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Date With a Book Club

I had been eyeing this sexy book club that meets each month in that trendy coffee shop in a nearby college town. I’d seen it on the library events page and I just knew I would love it and it would love me back, if only we could get together. Fate stepped in and INSISTED that I go to book club – YAY!

It turned out just as fabulous as I had hoped. We met for coffee Saturday morning, enjoyed a lovely hot drink, stimulating conversation, and live guitar music. Heavenly…

Eight of us, 7 ladies and 1 brave guy, met on a bright morning, pulled up tables and chairs, loaded up with our favorite coffee shop drinks, and brought out our books. The guy and I were new to the group while the rest had been meeting and discussing together for several years. They were very welcoming, and us newbies felt right at home. I was the only one who read the book on an ereader – everyone else had regular print copies and they were loaded up with little colored sticky note flags marking the passages they wanted to discuss. All the regulars had taken notes as they read and were ready to jump right in.

This month’s book was Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman, which was published this past November. This book club reads new releases, bestsellers, and books about current hot topics. They read 1 nonfiction book each quarter and 2 fiction books, chosen by the librarian who is in charge of the group. She also provides copies to everyone. Next month’s book is A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates (whew, heavy reading).

One of the first things I noticed was that there didn’t appear to be any leader. One older lady started us off with a comment and a question and conversation ensued. This was like hanging out with your friends and discussing a topic. Everyone was respectful of the others, and when a bit of cross-talking happened (which was twice), the older lady gently reminded us to “listen when others are talking”. I thought she was the leader, and only found out at the end that the actual leader from the library was the unassuming young woman 2 seats down from me. Ha ha, fooled me!

Everyone took turns jumping in and either responding to comments, or pointing out a new take on a related idea. They referenced passages in the book, and thoughts that they had noted as they were reading. Wow! This is a very experienced book club! There was one lady who sometimes went off on a tangent, but the club listened politely, responded kindly, and got back to the book. Very smoothly done – just exactly how a smooth, sophisticated, sexy, coffee-shop club should be! I felt so cool and smart to be part of it, lol! I also liked the Saturday morning time frame just like I thought I would – not at the end of a long work day (with loads of school work to do before bed, ha ha).

“They used their own life experience to make sense of texts and conversely used texts to make sense of life …” (Ross, 1999)

This quote struck me when I was reading the article, Finding Without Seeking by C. Ross. This was EXACTLY how this discussion went. The book was about making sense of the increasing acceleration of change in today’s highly technological, globally connected, environmentally sensitive world. The author was attempting to make sense of how The Machine, which is what he calls his worldview, works with all of these changes. As we discussed the ideas in the book, we used our life experiences to help understand it, as well as referring back to the book to explain some of the phenomena we’ve each observed around us. It was the same circle Ross mentions in the article and it fits perfectly with what happens within each of us as we read.

My only disappointment was that the date ended all too soon – only just over an hour. It was long enough for a great discussion without dragging, but I would’ve enjoyed perhaps another 10 or 15 minutes. Several people did hang around for a few minutes to welcome me again and get their books for next month. I noticed on the Structuring Your Meeting page of www.ilovelibraries.org, that they recommend 2 to 2 ½ hours, but that’s total time – not just discussion time. We were at the coffee shop for about 1½ hours total and that was ok.

Can’t wait for my next Book Club Date!


References

LitLovers.com. (2015). Structuring your meeting | I love libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ilovelibraries.org/booklovers/bookclub/structure-meeting

Ross, C. S. (1999). Finding without seeking: what readers say about the role of pleasure reading as a source of information. Exploring the contexts of information behavior, 343-355.





6 comments:

  1. Deidre,

    I LOVED the way you described your experience. I felt like I was there! It sounds like you had a very good first time experience on your book club date. I agree with the time frame disappointment, it seems like it did not last long enough! An hour does not give enough time, with introductions of everyone and the accidental tangent here and there. The quote you referenced struck a chord with me, too. Book discussions help highlight the parts of the text that resonate with you and your life, and how you make sense of the text using your own experiences. Very cool!

    Also, Thank you for stopping by to read my Women's Lives and Relationships annotation. I came across Me Before You on Goodreads.com. I typed in Women's Fiction, and that was one of the choices. I do see how there is an overlap between this genre and Romance. Louisa Clark was not really trying to "romance" Will Traynor but rather find a way to get on his good side, and to brighten up a bit, seeing as she had a boyfriend of her own.

    ALSO -- I TRIED AND TRIED AND TRIED to fix the font size of that annotation, and with every refreshing of the page, it stayed small. Sorry for the technical difficulty!

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    1. Ooh, that sounds terribly frustrating! I hate when tech won't play nicely.
      I think a lot of genres have a overlap like you're talking about, and it becomes sometimes really hard to determine which is the main theme without reading the entire book. That's been a real challenge for me as I have genrified the teen section, and YA books are notoriously genre-bending. I can't read them all, so I search for reviews that will give me a clue to the major structure of the stories. I use Goodreads a lot, as well as Worldcat, and someone recently suggested I try Titlewave, so I applied for an account and should be able to get in and try it tomorrow. It sure takes a lot of time. :)

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  2. First I want to say that I love your writing style. Very engaging! I haven't noticed anyone else who mentioned the amount of sticky notes and bookmarked passages that the other members kept. This must be one very self-motivated book club! I am glad that your experience went so well.

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    1. Gee, thanks, I always think I sound awful! Yes, these people were super organized - you could tell they've been doing it for a while. Pro-book-clubbers! Can't wait for next month.... If you're close to Oxford, OH (Miami U.) come and join us.

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  3. Fantastic observations and write up! I'm glad you had such a pleasant experience! I want to have a book club in a coffee shop!

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    1. Come on down, with you, me, and Baby Librarian, we can stage a book club coup, lol!

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