Friday, 20 February 2009

Book Clubs: More Than Just a Book Discussion, A Circle of Friends Too

The Globe and Mail has begun a weekly feature about book clubs across the country: this week Clubland features a group in Port Credit, ON. Most of its 17 members live in the same housing development and have been getting together monthly for about six years. The members of the English language book club I’ve belonged to more 40 years read their story, and decided we should submit ours too.

Can’t say that we have a name, although the group began as an activity of the McGill Women Associates--an organization which at the time was made up mostly of faculty wives--more than 40 years ago. At least one of our members was involved back then, but the group has changed over the years to include women whose connection with McGill is tenuous. The constant has been a willingness to get together every two weeks from September through early June to discuss books. One person leads the discussion, presenting reviews, biographical information about the author and providing background information about the situation in which the book was written or is about. The level of discussion has always been very high, although a great deal of gossip gets exchanged as we have dessert before hand.

For years when I returned from the first meeting in the fall my husband would ask: “Okay, who’s pregnant and who’s gone back to library school.” Now, as you might imagine, his question is more along the lines: “Okay, who’s retiring?” Eventually I suppose it will become: “And who’s passed on?”

That is, I suppose, the mark of a dynamic group, which has provided friendship and an intellectual stimulus for decades. The group has in fact produced off spring. Les Durochères, about whom I wrote yesterday, is a direct outgrowth. More than 25 years ago I brought as a guest a Francophone neighbor whose husband was briefly connected with McGill to a meeting, and she came away with the idea that we should organize a group of Francophone neighbors. The result for me has been encouragement to read a wide variety of books (mostly fiction) in both French and English, and a marvelous circle of friends.

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