Skip to main content


July 1, 2008

Too Many Great Books to Read?

Posted by carol
If your book club has too many great page-turners to read, Pam Cox has an idea. When her nonfiction book club in Harrisonburg, Virginia, wanted to start reading fiction, she solved the issue by creating a spin-off book club. Several ambitious members even belong to both. Here Pam shares some of their nonfiction reading selections.

Has your book club ever had so many great books on the table that it takes way too long to choose The One for next month's meeting? Is someone always disappointed at the prospect of reading solo an intriguing book that begs for discussion? Well, that "someone" was me.

In 1999, I got some friends (and friends-in-waiting) together for a book club to discuss Gary Zukav's Seat of the Soul. After reading Chapter 1, I felt like I should not go there alone. The group consisted of three women and one man, and we took it slowly and spent about four months on that book --- reading sections for discussion instead of the whole book at one sitting. It was so rewarding that we decided to choose another book of that genre when we finished Seat. Next was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and we had a roomful of people --- men and women --- and it was another great success!

Around that time, The Red Tent came into our sights and some of us wanted to read that AND Dr. Phil's Life Strategies. Not being willing or able to say "no" to a good book, we created a second book club for (mainly) fiction or pleasure reading: Ladies of Pleasure, Reading. (It so happened that the men did not want to go into fiction.)

Nine years and 84 books later, we have both our nonfiction club "Veritas" and our (mainly) fiction club "Ladies of Pleasure, Reading" going strong! Our fiction club has 10 members, six of whom are original founding members, and our nonfiction club has nine members, six of whom have been there since the beginning. Veritas has members who weave in and out depending on their level of interest in the topic we've chosen. We go slowly with most books, seldom reading an entire book every month. Some of the books we've studied are Life Strategies by Dr. Phil and the accompanying workbook, several of the Enneagram personality types books by Helen Palmer and David Daniels (we studied Enneagramology for more than two years and grew to 15 members during that time), Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, and some quicker reads like Tao of Pooh and Einstein's Dreams mixed in.

For another discussion, we split the group in half with some reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and the rest reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The discussion took place over a meal made exclusively from local food --- in November! A very mind-expanding choice was the film What the Bleep Do We Know? paired with the online study guide --- quantum physics made entertaining and accessible. Most recently we completed a four-month course on global warming from a publication of the Eco-Alliance, and we had four new members for that discussion.

Many of the Pleasure Ladies also regularly participate in Veritas, and the membership ---men and women --- fluctuates with the topic. It's twice the opportunity to explore books we may not have read at all with groups that are thriving!

Why not take a poll in your group to see how many members would be interested in doubling their pleasure?

---Pam Cox