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October 20, 2008

Same Topic, Different Books

Posted by carol
This month, Heather Johnson's book club took a different approach to their discussion --- with great success...

My book club tried something new this month --- reading different books on the same topic. One member wanted to read a biography of Jackie Kennedy Onassis but couldn't decide which one to choose, so we decided to leave the choice up to each member. In the end our group read a total of nine different books...everything from traditional (like Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life by Donald Spoto) to photo (like Jackie: Her Life in Pictures by James Spada) to fashion (Jackie, The Clothes of Camelot by Dominick Dunne). Click here for the full list of titles.

Because we all read different books, we couldn't run our meeting the same old way. Instead we structured our discussion around the various segments of Jackie's life. We took turns sharing and comparing what we learned about that time period then moved on to the next one. We also spent a great deal of time discussing whether each author had a bias or a purpose in writing the book as he/she did. It was very interesting to see how each author treated the same subject. Most of our books agreed with each other on the main points, but there was one (Janet & Jackie by Jan Potter) that had an entirely different perspective on just about everything.

I've often heard the complaint that non-fiction books aren't good choices for book clubs because there is not much to discuss. I couldn't disagree more! Every historical event, famous person, or time period can be viewed a variety of different ways. A book club is the perfect place to discuss those varying perspectives. Why not choose a topic/person/time that interests your group and allow your members to pick a book on that subject? I guarantee that the discussion will be unlike any you've had before.

---Heather Johnson