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BOOK CORNER: More About Guys and Book Groups
Joe Sullivan | Ocean Front

 

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Judd Halenza’s article in the October issue on men in book groups raised questions about how such a group is organized. I participate in a book discussion group formed by Tom McGreal about five years ago. The eight members are all men and all technically senior citizens, though not necessarily retired. The group reflects the diversity of Del Mar --- all white, with political differences running from moderate Democrat to moderate Republican.

We meet from 7-10:30 PM on a regular evening each month at a member’s home. Hosting duty rotates among the members. The gathering begins with simple food and drink. Take-out pizza is acceptable. Small talk is limited, since we are eager to get on to discussion of the book. Did I mention wine is involved?
We choose one book to read each month. We are open to reading all sorts of books: fiction and non-fiction, classics and recently published. The responsibility of recommending books rotates among the eight members. The member whose turn it is recommends three books, the group votes to choose one of those for the next month’s discussion. To accommodate varying reading habits we try to choose a book that is available on paper, audio, and Kindle.

The person who recommended the book then facilitates the discussion. The evening opens with a short biography of the author, usually cribbed from Wikipedia. The ensuing discussion can be sparked by the theme, the plot, and the characters of the book as well the style of the writer. Our conversation always ranges beyond the book, relating to personal experiences, current events, and the state of the world.

In his 2001 book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam described how Americans are becoming increasingly disconnected from their communities as participation in organized groups, such as PTA, church, or fraternal organizations, has declined. In Del Mar the fabric of our community is woven through participation in myriad community groups, both formal and informal. I like to think our small book group is part of that fabric.

 

 

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