Book Groups

Time-Management Tips for Book-Group Discussion Leaders
By November 20, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Time-Management Tips for Book-Group Discussion Leaders

I’ve been involved with book groups since 1999. Some of them have been connected to bookstores or libraries, while others have been individuals meeting in one another’s homes. I’ve started a few from the ground up and taken over others when the previous leader decided the responsibility was too much. Being a discussion leader takes up a […]

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Humiliation Can Be Good for a Book Group
By November 18, 2014 1 Comments Read More →

Humiliation Can Be Good for a Book Group

David Lodge’s classic campus comedy, Changing Places (1975), introduced a game called Humiliation, which readers have been playing to their red-faced delight ever since. Players get together in a group and confess the canonical works that they have failed to read, scoring a point for each other person who has read it. In Lodge’s book, in which […]

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Coming Back to Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
By November 14, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Coming Back to Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I read Jeanette Winterson’s debut autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit years ago, so I was intrigued to see what her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, would be like in revisiting some of the same material. I am preparing to lead a discussion on this book next week for […]

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What Makes a Book Worth Talking About? A Veteran Book-Group Leader Weighs In
By November 6, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

What Makes a Book Worth Talking About? A Veteran Book-Group Leader Weighs In

I have been a discussion leader since 1999 and the question I am most often asked is, “What exactly makes a book a good book-discussion pick?” The first thing I say back is that most publishers aren’t correct in their estimation of what is a discussable book. I have lead as many as five different groups […]

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A Book-Group Discussion Where Everyone Reads a Different Book? Blame It on Paris
By November 5, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

A Book-Group Discussion Where Everyone Reads a Different Book? Blame It on Paris

When I travel, I like to take books with me that are set in my destination. Reading Ian Rankin mysteries in Edinburgh, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) in Savannah, made those trips more memorable, bringing to life locations that otherwise might not have signified much. But when faced with the plethora of choices […]

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Return to Oz for a Fantastic Book-Group Theme
By October 28, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Return to Oz for a Fantastic Book-Group Theme

My fantasy and science fiction group discussed the theme of “Fantasy before Tolkien” last week, and I decided to use the opportunity to go somewhere I hadn’t been in over thirty years: Frank Baum’s Oz. More than any other series of books, these titles are connected to my development as a reader. I remember loving them, […]

Growing Up Too Fast: A Rock-and-Roll Coming-of-Age
By October 22, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Growing Up Too Fast: A Rock-and-Roll Coming-of-Age

Caitlin Moran’s debut coming-of-age novel, How to Build a Girl, tackles two topics that not enough literary or even coming-of-age fiction does: the sex-obsessed teenage girl and a family living in poverty. I found both topics refreshing, even eye-opening at times, and believe that both will give book groups a lot to discuss. What she […]

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For Bold Book Groups: A Gritty, Historical Country Noir
By October 20, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

For Bold Book Groups: A Gritty, Historical Country Noir

When a novel begins with a grandmotherly type passing the family tradition of drowning puppies in the river on to her beloved adopted son, you know it’s going to be dark. That’s the start of Tom Franklin’s 2003 masterpiece, Hell at the Breech. It’s a gritty historical work of country noir, a fictionalization of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century […]

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How Swede It Is: The Origins of Scandinavian Noir
By October 16, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

How Swede It Is: The Origins of Scandinavian Noir

If you’re like me, your awareness of the Scandinavian Noir phenomenon probably began with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy that started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008). But that flood of great Scandinavian crime writers that have found their way onto American bookshelves didn’t really begin with Larsson, or even Henning Mankell. It began with […]

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Look Here! Look Here! A Southern Family Drama with Comic Restraint

Look Here! Look Here! A Southern Family Drama with Comic Restraint

I read a fair amount of books: good, bad, and occasionally ugly. I read some worth passing on and some worth passing over. But I seldom read a book I consider Great. To be Great, the author must stun me with his or her command of language, so much so that I wonder if they made a deal with […]

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