IVP - Andy Unedited - Who Did You Hit with That Book Club?

December 11, 2008

Who Did You Hit with That Book Club?

Would you pay $250 a year to hire the services of a book-group facilitator? Apparently that's just what some New Yorkers are doing. A New York Times article chronicles the troubles many book groups have--mostly with members who monopolize conversation or selecting books the whole group can agree to.

My wife and I have been part of a book group for over a year now. It was inspired by some friends who saw The Jane Austen Book Club and thought it would be fun. Five couples, mostly neighbors, meet five times a year. For each meeting a different couple selects the book we discuss, hosts the group and leads the discussion.

In addition, it costs us nothing. Our local library gets ten copies of each book on loan from other libraries.

In the course of our first year we read

The Sparrow

Children of God

Saturday Night Lights

Devil in the White City

Sin in the Second City

It's been a good mix of fiction and nonfiction with a nice dose of Chicago-themed books. Interestingly, while each couple can choose one book a year, members have not taken this an an opportunity to impose their book taste on the group. Actually, the tendency has been to think quite hard about what books most everyone in the group would appreciate.

Sure, we could probably have more balanced discussions with quieter ones speaking up more and those of use happy to hear our own voices backing off more. (OK, I confess.) Maybe a facilitator could help us with that. But for $250 a year? As my colleague Gary Deddo said, "Only in New York City! Groups that are willing to pay for one and probably couldn't function without it. Do facilitators have to be psychiatrists as well?"

Posted by Andy Le Peau at December 11, 2008 8:30 AM Bookmark and Share


On campus and in the local congregation, ably facilitated book discussions and manuscript studies are a significant piece of spiritual formation.

Those of us who matured through college/ministry as part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, have been given a unique gift of training and emphasis in this area. If one didn't come by facilitating group study naturally, it still becomes habit over time and is hard to loose even as a participant.

Comment by: Tom Grosh at December 18, 2008 12:31 PM

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.