About two months ago, I went to lunch with two of my former students from long ago, one from high school and the other from the days when I taught at the university. They had a favor to ask and I was so thrilled since my lifelong passion for books and reading is shared by some of the people I have taught.
They have just started their 40's, their children are no longer toddlers, they work hard and are feeling a longing to nourish their souls and connect with other women once in a while. I can think of no better way to do that than to read, relax and share stimulating conversation than around a book. In my experience, these circles usually lead to all kinds of sharing and growth on many levels.
So tonight, I am meeting with a brand new circle of eight women of varying ages; my suggestion since different age groups can learn a lot from one another. I also recommended that they not all be in the education sector. My own reading circle has its share of teachers but we also have a massage therapist and a social worker. I have learned much from these two colleagues and they have taught the whole group about life outside the classroom.
For those of you who may be thinking of starting a circle, Oprah's book club features Lise Funderburg's 10 Book Club Commandments:
1. Meet on a reasonable schedule that allows ample time to finish the book—in our case, every other month.Reading circles are the best way to pursue a passion, debate and socialize at the same time!
2. Make new friends. Invite people who don't know each other, and have more than one person do the inviting.
3. Discuss parameters, so members know what to expect: Fiction? Current events? Classics?
4. Spread the work and the power by rotating hosting duties and letting the host pick the book.
5. Cook and clean only as much as you like. One presentable bathroom and basic munchies will do.
6. Keep meetings to three hours—it's a club, not an endurance test.
7. Send kids and spouses out for the afternoon.
8. Read on paper, but communicate electronically: Set up a group e-mail list, forward directions using Mapquest, and send out reminders a couple of days beforehand.
9. Overbook for a consistent turnout. If you want six at every meeting, have 10 on your list.
10. Talk about the book—not exclusively, especially if the book's a dud, but hold the group to its purpose.