Report from the front lines

Editor’s note: Although Audra Otto encountered only a handful of mixed-gender book groups in her research, we have 21 such clubs currently registered with the Book Club Club. This report came in this morning from the captain of one mixed-gender group.

“Our book club (Immanuel Book Club) started through our church. It started as people who liked to read and was open to anyone. The original members (all but two who moved away) still participate. It wasn’t intentionally started as a mixed-gender group but just ended up that way. Perhaps the prodigious amounts of wine, beer and food have kept both genders interested? We thought we would read some religious books but a biography oft Martin Luther stopped that cold. (I couldn’t even read one page.)

“I cannot speak for every member, but I think being in an all-female group would now be difficult for me. The men in our group have encouraged us to read books most female groups would not have picked. An example would be “River of Doubt” about Teddy Roosevelt.  This book remains one of our most favorite yet I think it is less likely an all female group would have chosen it. When a “chick lit” type book is read, the men provide their comments which usually humble the women’s glowing praise of it. This is good and leads to great conversation and laughing.

“When our book club started, we were primarily social. The book was third to food and socialization, but now, about 10 years later, the book is front and center. We have learned to really discuss a book, including disagreements, insights, etc. Often our coats aren’t even off when the discussions begin. I don’t think that would happen with an all-female group; perhaps I am wrong but my friends’ all-female groups seem more social. Social is good, but I now love and so look forward to our engaged discussions.”

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