I have so many things I could say about book groups--having been a member of one (actually, of a series of them) for 20+ years. First, there was the Ann Arbor Society of the Written Word (A2sW2), which I launched with Paul Reingold so many years ago. Then, when I moved to Chicago, my husband and I were invited to join a Proust reading group. With that group, we spent three years--about 100 pages a month, a volume a year--reading and discussing Remembrance of Things Past. The group started with a huge living room full of people (maybe 30-40) but over the years dwindled to a core group of about 10 who were there at the finish line. Now my husband and I are in a group that began almost 30 years ago (close to the time Paul and I were starting ours in A2). We have belonged to this "latest" group for maybe 15 years??? The membership has changed dramatically and is really great right now. Before me, my parents belonged to reading groups, as did my sister.
My latest experience with book groups has involved attending meetings where my novel--Grand River and Joy--is being discussed. And I did this last night--via speaker phone--with a group of women in Michigan, which is what has prompted me to write this post. It was a wonderful, gratifying experience. I learn something every time I talk with a reader. But the real point of this post is to talk about hope because lately I have not been feeling a lot of it, and I have to do some serious work to keep myself from despair. But I found hope last night in that discussion--in a group of humans who cares enough about books and literature and community to take the time (on a week night!) to come together to converse and explore ideas. I salute you and thank you for inviting me in and giving me hope.