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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Scratching An Itch

Among the reasons I prefer bigger book clubs is how easy it is to remain relatively silent. I've spent a good portion of my professional life speaking to groups and even now still have ample opportunity to do so; it's good dialing down the extrovert periodically. In addition, I generally prefer clubs where the same person runs meetings. If a leader/facilitator or their process is not to my liking, I don't return.

When I do get involved with a smaller club - where the leadership/facilitation role often rotates - I try to avoid being drafted or stepping into that role; been there as well. Still, on occasion, I do itch to lead a book discussion. This is especially true for books with rich prose, startling insights about the human condition, a unique architecture or that rare wonderful combination: can't put it down/don't want it to end. My itch increases significantly when the reader's guide questions for books of this caliber are lame or leading.

Despite the itch, I've been mostly disappointed with the few discussions I've led to date, even though each has been about a book I love without reservation. What's going on? Are my set-ups weak? Do I have unrealistic expectations? Are my questions imprecise? Or...too precise? Small groups are often more challenging than large groups and that alone could be the story. My next opportunity to facilitate will be my second shot moderating a conversation about "Tolstoy & The Purple Chair" (Nina Sankovitch), perhaps my favorite non-fiction book of the past five years. If you've read it and have ideas, get them to me - I'll let you know how it goes. And wish me luck scratching this itch.

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