A History of Men, Chapter 2: Our Formation
It began with a question. I was browsing the store one day when one of Redbery’s earliest book clubs was meeting. They were discussing the first book in the Twilight series. Recently, the daughter of my wife’s friends had posted on her Facebook page that she was one of a growing group of teenagers who probably had an unreasonable view of love and romance because of Twilight. I asked Bev about this, and she took me into the group’s meeting to pose the question to them.
Technically, that’s the question that started it all. But in reality it was the one that came next. After Bev and I left the group to continue their discussion, I asked her, "Why do book groups seem to only be comprised of women?" She thought about it for a moment, and with a slight smile said, “would you consider starting a men’s book group?” I looked around the room with the strangest feeling that I had sprung a trap. Bev smiled.
The Men's Book Group held its first meeting in June 2009. Barry Blakeborough and I discussed Seth Kantner's Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska on that early summer evening. There were only two of us that first night and the following month, but the seed was planted. Four people attended the August 2009 meeting
Our group has grown over the past two-and-a-half years, and we have developed a solid pseudo-reputation as the “smarty pants group.” (I’m not sure what that means.) Our reading interests tend toward history and historical fiction, but there have been a couple of thrillers, some current events, and one classic (Moby Dick). The group’s full reading history is provided in "A History of Men, Chapter 1.”
In 2010, we began rating the books as a way of sharing with Redbery customers what we felt were good books for men. We rate the readability and the interest of books on a scale of 1-5. Later in the year, we added another question to our evaluations: “would you read another book by this author?” These rankings are often shared on the Men’s Book Group page of the Redbery website, and they will now be shared in this blog. Past rankings are also shown in "A History of Men, Chapter 1.”
The group established its first “Book of the Year” selection in 2011, but that’s another story.