Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

What's New?__________


July 6th, author Neil Gaiman will speak at the Long Center. $32.
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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

What Makes a Book a Good One for Discussion?

This is from an email from 1/29/05. I didn't write it, and I don't know where it came from. So, credit goes to whoever!

Probably the most important criteria are that the book be well written and that it explores basic human truths. Good books for discussion have three-dimensional characters who are forced to make difficult choices, under difficult situations, whose behavior sometimes makes sense and sometimes doesn’t.

Good book discussion books present the author’s view of an important truth and sometimes send a message to the reader.

During a book discussion, what you’re really talking about is everything that the author hasn’t said—all those white spaces on the printed page. For this reason, books that are heavily plot driven (most mysteries, westerns, romances, and science fiction/fantasy) don’t lend themselves to book discussions. In genre novels and some mainstream fiction (and often in nonfiction), the author spells out everything for the reader, so that there is little to say except, “I loved the book” or “I hated it” or “Isn’t that interesting.”

(Incidentally, this “everything that the author hasn’t said” idea is why poetry makes such a rich topic for discussion.)

Other good choices for discussion are books that have ambiguous endings, where the outcome of the novel is not clear. For example, there is no consensus about what actually happened in Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods, Sara Maitland’s Ancestral Truths, or James Buchan’s The Persian Bride.

It’s important to remind the group that not every member is going to like every book the group chooses. Everyone may read the same book, but in fact, every member is reading a different book. Everyone brings her own unique history, memories, background, and influences. Everyone is in a different place in his life when he reads the book. All of these differences influence the reader’s experience of the book and why she may like or dislike it.

There are also pairs of books that make good discussions. These can be discussed at one meeting or read and discussed in successive months. Some examples include
A Dangerous Friend by Ward Just and The Quiet American by Graham Greene, The Hours by Michael Cunningham and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild.

Finally, there are some books that raise so many questions and issues that you just can’t stop talking about them. These may not be enjoyed by everyone in the group, but they’re bound to lead to spirited discussions: Ernest Gaines’s
A Lesson Before Dying, Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter, Andre Dubus III’s The House of Sand and Fog, [and] Frederick Busch’s Girls.

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