I have a humble suggestion for a New Year's resolution: Join a book club. With this one step, your annual book-reading tally could shoot up. It helps make room for pleasure-reading in busy lives.
If there isn't a book club that meets conveniently near you (check
your local library), then consider forming one yourself. I will help you
with a foolproof formula. The book club I started in
Now, I'm guessing that many, if not most, of the savvy, worldly women reading this are already in a book club. (For some reason, men aren't as likely to join reading groups. My husband suggests that men view get-togethers to discuss books as one of those obligatory duties that men do for wives if they must. Really?) But for those who have dipped a toe in only to have a club dissolve, and for those who have never tried, let me share the secrets of creating a book club with staying power.
Rule No. 1:
Meet at a regular time every month. Groups that try to
arrange meetings when it's convenient for everyone never get into a
rhythm. My book club meets at
Rule No. 2:
Limit the number of members and keep a roster. If you're looking for group cohesion, cap the number of members; otherwise, people won't feel that their presence will be missed and they will drift away. We try to hold membership to 12 -- 12 meetings per year allows each member to host, and people tend to own 12 sets of flatware and 12 wine glasses (especially that last bit).
Rule No. 3:
Let each member pick a book as opposed to making a consensus list. Give each member a chance to impose their literary taste on the club. It makes for a more eclectic reading selection, gives members a direct stake in the choices (everyone wants to pick the most beloved book that year) and means that members with strong personalities won't dominate the list.
Rule No. 4:
Talk about the book. This might sound obvious. It's a book club, so what else are you going to do? But members of long-standing book clubs will describe the danger of devolving into chat-fests, with relatively few members bothering with the assigned reading. This is a slow death -- the serious readers will leave and take their intellectual heft with them. In my club, the evening's host leads the discussion. It's their book; they have an incentive to make it an engaging choice.
Rule No 5:
Have a nice, gentle enforcer. At least informally, someone has to make sure that members remain active. A friendly phone call will often do the trick and convince a member either to re-engage or to decide that the book-per-month commitment is too much and resign. As sad as it is to see a friend step out, this makes room for someone more interested in the "book" part of book club.
How does one start a book club?
Ask a few friends to join and have each of them bring along another friend. That gets a core group together. I've asked women into the club whom I barely knew but felt had great depth, or a spark of humor or curiosity. I wanted to know what they thought. Many are now lifelong friends.
This all sounds business-y, but being part of a book club is one of my life's gifts. I've read hundreds of books this way. It could be the most delightful New Year's resolution you ever make -- much easier than losing 10 pounds. Now, let the reading, discussing and wine-drinking begin.
Searching for last-minute gifts? How about books for your pet-loving friends and relatives, or maybe as presents to yourself? Here are some suggestions:
The majority of Americans do not believe that the federal government is capable of major policy initiatives. After studying 75 major U.S. policy initiatives since World War II, William D. Eggers and John O'Leary wrote "If We Can Put a Man on the Moon...Getting Big Things Done in Government." Eggers discusses th book with Jessica Rettig
(c)2009 Robyn Blumner
2009 OSCAR NOMINEES 81st Academy Awards
2009 Academy Award Oscar Winners
2009 Best Picture Oscar Nominations
2009 Best Animated Feature Oscar Nominations
2009 Best Lead Actress Oscar Nominations
- Kate Winslet in "The Reader"
- Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"
- Angelina Jolie in "Changeling"
- Melissa Leo in "Frozen River"
- Meryl Streep in "Doubt"
2009 Best Lead Actor Oscar Nominations
- Sean Penn in "Milk"
- Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor"
- Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon"
- Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"
2009 Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nominations
- PenÃƒÂ©lope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
- Amy Adams in "Doubt"
- Viola Davis in "Doubt"
- Taraji P. Henson in "Benjamin Button"
- Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler"