First meeting of my Nonfiction Book Group

In my field (Adult Program Coordinator for my library district), you can never predict what events will succeed and which will flop. Some programs I pour my heart and soul into and no one shows. Others I think will be completely unpopular and they pack the room.

* The writers' group I started? Total success.

* The film discussion group? One guy showed up to all but one of the films, ate the snacks, and fell asleep in all the movies.

* The outdoor concert series? I tried. Tried again. Tried one more time, and now we're dropping it from three or four concerts a summer to ONE.

* One Book/Two Villages Read? Flop. Flop. Drop. Even with Ray Bradbury's biographer coming to the Fahrenheit 451 event, and the author himself the year we read Robert Hellenga's Philosophy Made Simple.

* The online classics discussion group? We got through the first book okay, then it became me talking to myself. So now one of our patrons is running a classics group, and I get to be a member rather than the leader. Booyah!

* Bill Clinton's diarist coming to speak about her years in the White House? One or two people signed up, so I had to cancel. How embarrassing that was, not to mention disappointing for me. I wanted to hear the stories she had to tell, dammit!

And so on, and so on…

Now comes my nonfiction book group. We had our first meeting last Wednesday, and I'm hoping against hope this endeavor will succeed. Two people came, but we were one animated group chatting like we'd known each other forever. The book I chose?


David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

And we all loved it. Lots of discussion fodder here, with an eccentric Englishman who becomes driven to madness by the lust to find a lost civilization deep within the heart of the Amazon jungle. Did he find it? I dare not tell.

One thing's for sure, the two ladies who attended kick my butt as far as their knowledge of nonfiction writing – especially in the fields of science and civilizations. Book titles, authors and subjects were being bandied around like there's no tomorrow. Then here's me: that sounds interesting, and that sounds interesting… I wonder if the library has that…

Ms. "I read mostly fiction" felt a little sheepish in their company. It's true I started the group in order to expand my own nonfiction horizons, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when those who joined were already conversant with the genre. I need to find a way to use their combined knowledge to expand myself, while not annoying them with my ignorance.

Which means I have a lot of reading to do.

These two ladies are the sort who speak longingly about the Great Books Series, with what may have been a subtle hint the library may want to consider re-starting their former group. And, knowing me, I'd be all over that.

So that's a firm maybe.

It may take a few months to add more to our membership, to get people to realize it exists (What, READ the library's newsletter?), but for now I'm happy with our cozy little group. They're open, friendly, definitely well-read, and there was an instant bond – something that's pretty rare for me.

Next month's read? Dava Sobel's The Planets:


We're all excited to see what we can learn from it. Especially ME. I can only hope they haven't read too much about the universe, so much they leave me in the inter-galactic dust. Between you and me, I'd bet they have.

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