Perhaps you are one of the millions who has tuned in and turned on to the hugely popular Oprah's Book Club. And perhaps by watching it, you've discovered a new, or rekindled an old, passion for reading. Now, with the guidance of Rachel W. Jacobsohn's revised and updated edition of The Reading Group Handbook, you, too, can start your own book club! Book clubs and reading groups give fellow members the chance to break out of established reading patterns and learn adventurous approaches to creative material. With the help of The Reading Group Handbook, you'll get a definitive, step-by-step guide to starting your own book club, written by a professional reading group leader who has organized and led groups--face-to-face and even online--for over twenty years. In this newly revised and expanded edition, you'll get information on: Where to meet: homes, local bookstores, libraries, and online How to select members and decide a format for the meetings How to read material critically and constructively in preparation for the gathering The art of the discussion Over thirty-five suggested reading lists, including an expanded list of year-by-year Pulitzer Prize winners, Oprah's Book Club picks, and personal recommendations from the author and her groups' members Where to go to get more information on the books you choose and on book clubs throughout the country As reading groups have become the latest trend in socializing, anyone who wants to combine a love of literature with the opportunity to meet others will not want to be without The Reading Group Handbook. With The Reading Group Handbook, readers will enjoy the benefits of a good book and a good book club.
The book started off with a definition of a reading group, goals and what to expect. Then discussed member types, what they contribute, what to expect, and potential conflicts. Then it gets into organizational details, selecting locations, issues of food, rules of order, focus, leadership, and such.
These elements are good and I had hoped Rachel would delve into these a bit deeper. But she spends a lot of time on the value of reading and reading groups, which I think is unnecessary given that the reader has selected this book.
Another problem I had is that the book had a very strong focus on women's reading groups. This wasn't apparent from the cover or the little research I did. I have doubts about a lot of the material and how much it can be generalized. The reading list, for instance, has a strong slant toward women authors and women's issues.
The author is a professional book group leader. She spends a chapter on why you should have a professional leader, and lists a few other professional leaders in other areas of the country. This portion just felt like an ad, I couldn't accept it as real advice since she seemed to be pushing her services a little too much. She does discuss a reading list newsletter she offers - for a fee, for instance.
Almost half the book is appendices. These list book suggestions in several categories, syllabi from several reading groups, and a glossary of literary terms, among a few others.
I don't feel the book was a waste of time, but there are undoubtedly better books out there.