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10.14.2010

National Reading Group Month

October is National Reading Group Month and I wanted to dedicate a few posts throughout the month to the reading group I’ve become engaged with recently. National Reading Group Month was introduced by the Women’s National Book Association to celebrate the importance of reading and connecting with individuals in the community. Make sure to check the website (above) to see what events are going on in your area!

This post is dedicated to discussing my own experiences and offering advice if you're thinking about starting your own.

Thinking about creating/joining a reading group?

-Love to read?

-Love to discuss what you’re reading?

-Love connecting with new people?

-Want to start reading more regularly?

You should definitely research groups in your area.

My experience:
 

I went through a reading slump after I graduated college and didn’t want to pick up any new literature. I was so tired of reading all day, everday that I felt I needed a break. However, realizing I finally had the opportunity to read WHATEVER I wanted to read, I started getting back into the literary world. When I began to miss the days of college lectures and round table discussions, I knew I had to start engaging in stimulating educational activites.

Maybe you’ve felt that, too?

A couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to get the most out of my reading, and wanted to meet other literature lovers in my area. I advertised on Craigslist, contacted acquaintances and welcomed anyone that was interested.

In the beginning, commitments were broken and people didn’t show up, which left me feeling disconcerted.

But I’ve got a great group of 4 now, soon to be 5, and it’s the perfect size.

How the Group Works:

We divide a selected title in half, conquering our reading goals before we attend each meeting. I encourage members to make notes while they read. This way, members can express their points, while using the text to elucidate their views.

You may decide to appoint members to choose reading selections, and then lead those particular meetings. So far, we collectively engage in the material, all speaking and posing questions. I feel that the group is very much conversational, and you just have to find/create a group that operates the way in which you enjoy discussion/organization.

Meeting Times:

We meet twice a month (we’re on our third month), on the first and third Wednesdays, at the same coffee house later in evening.

We meet anywhere from an hour to a couple of hours. (I decided against maintaining rigid time lines.) Instead, I encourage members to come to the meeting ready to discuss, allowing about an hour to really hash out our thoughts on the book. Then, once we’ve finished our discussion and have decided on the next book, we’re free to discuss our social lives and enjoy an evening out. This is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of participating in a group: nothing beats meeting really interesting individuals in the community.

This will change from group to group. Again, it’s about finding something that works for you so that you’re getting the most out of the experience.

How to Choose the Material Covered:

Little Bee: A NovelWhen I contacted everyone I named The History of Love by Nicole Krauss my first suggestion. I was fortunate because everyone agreed. Now, members suggest books that they’d like to read and from there I choose a title that has gotten the most vocalized interest. Our next challenge, Little Bee by Chris Cleave,  is a novel rated highly for group discussion on most group resource sites.

Note: Book Group Sites like:

-LitLovers

Are great for individuals creating a group for the first time, as they provide suggested reading lists and guides to accompany those titles. Book Movement allows group leaders to create profiles and manage their group on the site, so that members are always able to go to the same space and communicate.

Eventually, leaders and members may wish to use other resources for finding books. Publishers’ sites often provide reading guides to accompany books they represent. Flashlight Worthy Books, another site, has unique suggested reading lists organized by genre and topic of interest.

REMEMBER:

-Emphasize the type of literature you want to discuss/want to see discussed. A Science Fiction lover might not find satisfaction in a group that strictly discusses Historical Fiction.


-Make sure everyone shares an equal objective in reference to the group’s goals.


-Keep it fun and informative! Make sure everyone is included and comfortable with other members of the group. Moderate so that everyone has their say.

- Stress that keeping meeting dates is important (whose time isn’t) and that organization is key.


-Talk-talk-talk. Highlight; bookmark; anticipate a lengthy thought-provoking discussion!


I’m so happy with my decision to create a reading group. I’ve met a group of successful, intelligent women, around my age, in the Atlanta area. I look forward to getting through a book and then meeting to discuss. I love sitting at a café with interesting people while enjoying a nice glass of wine.

I believe that if you’ve ever considered doing something like this there’s absolutely NO reason you shouldn’t.

BLOGGERS: Help out!

Participate in a reading group?

Have some valuable information to share with readers?

Celebrate this month-long event by participating in a group yourself, or encourage others to try it out!

5 comments:

  1. Just to let you know - I included your post today in a round-up of NRGM posts. Thanks for supporting it! http://carolinebookbinder.blogspot.com/2010/10/national-reading-group-month-posts.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for supporting NRGM. I am a sponsor and we certainly appreciate it. Please go to www.Readinggroupchoices.com for more tips for starting a book clubs, book club selections, ice-breakers, themes, etc.

    Books club rock.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Carin-
    Thanks! I really appreciate you including me in your post, not to mention introducing me to some more great resources of information! happy Blogging :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Barbara,
    I was elated when I found October was National Reading Group Month. I started my own group a few months ago in Atlanta and learn so much from it. Additionally, I've recently taken on the task of putting together and leading a Feminist Reading Group for the Feminist Women's Health Center of Atlanta that will kick-off in January. I'm really looking forward to the challenge and connecting with individuals in the community to discuss difficult issues! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete

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