My name is Jeanna Rock and we’re talking about
books that you can choose for your book group. When I organized my book group, I wanted to
have a variety of books available to discuss. I didn’t want to just discuss novels, I wanted
to discuss nonfiction as well. So we set up categories that we chose from every year.
And my book group chooses their books as a whole. We vote on the books that we’re going
to read that year. Now not all book groups do that. I know other book groups, each individual
member gets to choose a book and they present that book throughout the years. And other
book groups, particularly public ones, will decide on a book themselves and then everyone
will read that. And you really don’t have a lot of input as a member of that group.
I think membership or group input is very important in choosing books because you want
to have books that everyone is interested in reading. I like to have a nonfiction book
in my repertoire of books. And we try also to read books from other cultures. We have
a multi-cultural category in our books. We’re reading books from voices that we don’t necessarily
hear in the United States. Our book group also likes to do a young adult novel every
year so that we’re aware of what our children are reading as well. The popular novels of
the time are not always going to be good book group books. You need a book that you can
actually talk about and discuss. Sometimes the most controversial were the most popular
ones in our book group. One book that I particularly loved reading was In the Lake of the Woods
by Tim O’Brien. It was a book ripe for discussion because some people hated the book and other
people loved the book. It also had a very ambiguous ending. So we argued about how it
really ended. And it was probably one of the best discussions that we ever had. So try
to find books that have a lot of meat to them and are not too superficial because you’ll
have a better discussion if you do that.