The GRRREAT Women's Book Club has 11 active members and has been meeting for 11 years. They share wine, dessert and conversation at their monthly meetings and then get down to the business of discussing, digesting thoughts, pulling and tugging at the chapters to see what other delicious morsels of words will appear. They are ravenous readers.
What book by a woman recently sparked a great discussion?
"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. The story was a trip into the world of Southern white women and the black nannies and maids who are completely at their beck and call. We hotly debated the arrogance and mind-numbing cruelty of the society ladies. It was lifestyle versus learning. We agreed that entitlement by birth does not stop growth and accountability. The resilience and wily resistance of the maids overrode their seemingly hopeless situation. We admired their resolve to change their working world to provide better lives for their children.
What book by a woman would your group most recommend to other readers?
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It's a book with a book club. Personal letters lead to connections, to love of books, to hope, whimsy and amazing courage in the face of German occupation during World War II just miles from the coast of England. Themes discussed were how love chooses you, how the human spirit will persevere and how eventually good triumphs over evil. In the spirit of the book we shared recipes.
What makes your group work?
Our group is organized. We gather together and readily get down to the business of discussing the current book. We are willing to disagree without worrying too much about expressing personal opinions. Each September we meet for a potluck dinner to get organized for the year. Each woman takes a turn choosing a book for the month when she will also be the discussion leader. Each woman volunteers to host a gathering.
What questions or activities have you discovered that incite the best discussion?
One activity was to have keywords on slips of paper. Each member drew a word from a basket and discussed her word's importance in the development of the story.
What tips could you share with other groups?
Read the entire book before deciding to recommend a book for your group. Choose books with substance. Read widely. Be willing to share impressions along with something about your life experiences.