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Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Club Report: Year Three

Thirty-three meetings; seventeen novels, sixteen books of non-fiction; lowest attendance at any meeting = four people, highest = thirteen. I'm reasonably sure that's enough on the three year stats.

The third full year of my book club was more satisfying than the second and the return rate for the end-of-the-year feedback sheet was better than in either of the first two years. To ensure the club remains vibrant, each year I implement at least one idea or book recommendation from those sheets. Which brings me to the first of 2019's highlights:

* I ceded my facilitator's hat for one meeting when the group discussed The Gatekeepers (2017) because that particular book (by Chris Whipple) was recommended by a club member on their 2018 feedback sheet who also said he'd be willing to facilitate. Was fun wearing a participant hat that night.

* Along with The Gatekeepers, the non-fiction winners in 2019 were David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon (2017) - a book my wife has not stopped recommending to others since our discussion - and Between the World and Me (2015), which generated the most meaningful dialogue about race I've ever had with a group of white people. Thanks to author Ta-Nehisi Coates for that gift.

* Of the six novels we read in 2019, Barbara Kingsolver's 1998 masterwork Poisonwood Bible was arguably the most well received, although my bias may be showing there. One of the most intriguing conversations occurred when nine of us debated what Paul Auster was aiming for at the conclusion of his sometimes inscrutable novel called Invisible (2007). What a kick!

And 2020 is already off to a strong start thanks to a rich discussion about Alice McDermott's multi-generational tour-de-force The Ninth Hour (2017). I'm having so much fun.

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