Yesterday, while on vacation I had the pleasure of attending a local book club meeting. When I saw that they were reviewing the book Unbroken, I couldn’t resist. Why not go? I had read the book close to a year ago but it was one of those books that you don’t quickly forget. I was not sure what to expect and thought it would be interesting to see how another book club operates.
The BallenIsles Book club met in their club house and sat around a huge, formal conference table which had to fit at least 16 people as opposed to the relaxed living room atmosphere of the cafe where we meet. Unfortunately there were more people than spaces at the table so several of us sat along the wall on the outskirts of the table. As I was there for the first time and wasn’t sure how much I would actually have participated in the discussion this was fine with me.
After a brief discussion about future books and meetings and the announcement that they were no longer going to go around the table, asking each person what they thought of the book (the leader mentioned that he wanted to avoid hearing the “I didn’t read the book” comment) the discussion began.
The book was introduced by the member who had recommended it in the first place. A brief bio of Laura Hillenbrand was read as well as a few glowing reviews of the book and then the discussion took off. The group was much more diverse than our all ladies between the age of 50-65 group. There were actually men in this group! The discussion was very enlightening and in additional to a discussion of the book itself seemed to focus on war in general, Japanese/American relations, world power and yes even politics.
Thrown in were some personal stories, one woman whose brother piloted the same type plane as Zamperini and a grandmother who mentioned how her grandson was bullied, comparing it to how prisoners of war are beaten down. Another member talked about a psychological experiment conducted at Stanford University where students were assigned the position of prisoner or guard. This experiment which was supposed to last 2 weeks was ended after only 6 days because of the way it affected the participants. The “prisoners” became depressed, whereas the “guards” actually became sadistic. http://www.prisonexp.org/. What does this experiment say about human nature in general? Does this help explain why throughtout history people have been willing to do such horrific things to others?
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this group of articulate, thoughtful people. Amazingly, even with this size group, there were no cross conversations. Our book club tends to break down into little groups every once in a while! They didn’t hang around after discussing the book and talk about their kids, their vacations or where they were going for dinner. No talk about diets, movies or husbands and no food! This book club was all business. Next time I am going to arrive early and sit at the big table!
Tell us about your book club. Are you all business?