Two Groups, Different and Alike

Reading groups attract men and women, mothers and daughters, teenagers — readers and book-lovers of every size, shape, color, and temperament whether they live in cities or in small towns — all to broaden the horizons and enrich their lives. Please read these accounts of two groups so different but appreciating the same concept — lively books discussion with friends.

Pat writes to Reading Group Choices about her reading group, Barb & I:

"Thank you so much for the surprise book I received in the mail today, as part of the Elizabeth Crook contest. I am an avid reader and certainly will enjoy The Night Journal, and so will my reading group partner, Barbara. Since I live in a rural area, there is little chance of reading groups, so my friend Barb and I formed a group of two that we call Barb & I."

Pat, Barb & I, Glen Robertson, Canada

Tom writes to Reading Group Choices commenting on his men’s reading group, The Whiskey Point Men’s Reading Club, and their reading refuge.

“I started this group 3-4 years ago when I got married and moved into a household comprised entirely of females (my wife, two step daughters and a standard poodle). I found myself wanting to be in the company of men—especially men who wanted to go beyond watching the Red Sox and having a beer. (Though I like that, too!) I had read some great memoirs (Catfish and the Mandala, Bones of the Master and others) and wanted to talk about what I was reading with others. The men were all neighbors, all fathers and most had daughters. They immediately embraced the idea—and every one of the seven has remained in the group. We’ve read a lot about men at war (from All Quiet on the Western Front to Ha Jin’s War Trash), fathers and sons (some of the best group discussion came out of reading This Boy’s Life and Duke of Deception by the Wolff brothers) and coming of age. We read mostly contemporary male writers, with favorites being Roth, Coetzee, Pamuk. But we’ve also read mysteries, literary titles and once a book by Alice Munro. Our process breaks most of the rules. We choose a book at the end of each group based on recommendations from group members. One of us is a publisher (me) and another an English teacher—so we both tend to have ideas. Lately, the host has also been cooking a meal, sometimes related to the locale of the book. I think we all find it a kind of refuge. It’s worked out really well."

Tom, The Whiskey Point Men’s Reading Club, Brookline, MA