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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parenting, Book Clubs & Democracy

Though it may surprise some, both my wife and I were reasonably strict while raising our daughter. Before having children, we'd agreed parenting was a place where a democratic process would be unlikely to produce good results. And though we're both proud of the adult our daughter has become, you'd have to ask her if she'd have preferred more democracy when she was growing up.

Aside from my upbringing (also not democratic), I'm also grateful for another un-democratic situation in my own life - one of the book clubs I belong to. The leader/moderator, who is a librarian, selects all the books; no voting & little discussion, although she will take book suggestions made by club members under advisement. Why does this wholly un-democratic process appeal to me? Because it produces good results.

The leader picks a theme and then groups 3-4 books under that theme. The titles selected are rarely the predictable ones other clubs choose; there's a nice mix of fiction vs. non-fiction; & although the fiction choices are sometimes challenging, they are just as often very straightforward. I have not enjoyed equally every book selected over the past 20 months but I have been exposed to many new authors I'm sure I'd have missed. And the % of winners for this club compared to the others I'm in is not even close.

In what circumstances has a democratic process let you down?


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