I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Literature Discussion Groups

The New York Times published an article this weekend that caught my attention. It was called “Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?” written by Joanne Kaufman. It’s about how and why some people have become disillusioned with book clubs. Kaufman points out the reasons you might expect: one member takes over the group; tastes in books differ too much; a ban on discussing or reading about certain topics; etc.

In the middle of her article she says this though:
Today there are perhaps four million to five million book groups in the United States, and the number is thought to be rising, said Ann Kent, the founder of Book Group Expo, an annual gathering of readers and authors.

“I firmly believe there was an uptick in the number of book groups after 9/11, and I’m expecting another increase in these difficult economic times,” she said. “We’re looking to stay connected and to have a form of entertainment that’s affordable, and book groups are an easy avenue for that.”

So, in spite of the disillusionment, more and more people are joining book clubs, and they are doing so because they want to be connected with other like-minded people. Sounds like a great reason to me.

A couple of years ago, ten or fifteen people from my church started a literature group and I really enjoyed it. We read poems, plays, and short stories. Many in the group had literature backgrounds in college. And even the ones who didn’t were extremely well read. I loved listening to their insights.

We read and discussed a poem called “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678) once. My knowledge about poetry is as close to nothing as one can get, so I didn’t have much to offer after I read it. But listening to those who had a deeper understanding than I did helped me to grasp what Marvell was getting at.

Essentially, the poem seems to be about a man attempting to seduce a woman—trying nearly every trick in the book. But it isn’t hard to find opinions that have a slightly different take. This study guide seems to take a more innocent view in saying that the poem has more to with courtship and how slow the process can be, and how the man in this poem doesn’t want to lose any time with the woman he loves. He wants them to enjoy each other while they are still young.

Those are the types of nuances we discussed in our group and doing so helped to bring the pieces we were discussing to life for me. Unfortunately our literature group eventually disbanded, but I’d really like to get back into another group at some point.


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