Chester County Co-Ed Book Club


LitClub:
  The Chester County Co-Ed Book Club
(near) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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MANY WERE STRANGERS to one another, and some not. But all have developed bonds as readers and friends in this group from Chester County, Pennsylvania.



Tell us how you got together.
We came together through Meetup.com in 2008. We're a public group, which means we're open to all comers. Anyone who's interested can join.

But we have to specify we're in the U.S. because people from Chester, England, have tried to sign up.

An invasion by the Brits? When will they learn?
No invasion—they backed off politely. All told, 130 (Americans) have signed up.

That's a lot for a discussion.

Yes, but only about 40 are active at any given time, and our meetings have 10-15 members.

So let's talk about what you've read recently.
This is our list for the past year:
Weird Sisters
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Gone Girl
Night Circus
Age of Miracles
In the Garden of Beasts
In the Woods
11/22/63
Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Great Gatsby
Silver Linings Playbook

Any favorites over the years?
Our club has so many favorites, but here are a few. Everyone enjoyed The Help because of the depth of the characters and the richness of the dialect. Gone Girl was also a favorite because the plot was so interesting. Defending Jacob was a wonderful book because the end was so shocking and everything in the book is ambiguous. Many loved The Historian because Kostova's description of cities transports you there; her writing is beautiful and intriguing. The Cellist of Sarajevo was loved by many for its different storylines and the strength of the female character. 

Any disappointments?
Discovery of Witches was not a favorite among the men in our group; they felt Diana spent too much time trying on sweaters. The One That I Want and My Legendary Girlfriend were disappointing because the lead characters were so flaky/whiny and let life happen to them. Last Night in Twisted River was disliked by many; a number didn't finish because it was (in their opinion) just SO BORING. Choke was vulgar and off putting to many of the members.

How about books that led to great discussions?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks led to a great discussion about what rights people have over their own bodies. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was wonderful because we discussed issues of love, regret and loss. The Marriage Plot led us to consider nature vs. nurture in regards to bipolar disorder, and that brought out a lot of emotions and strong opinions. With The Story of Beautiful Girl we talked about how mental illness and race are regarded in our society today and in the past.

Speaking of discussions, who leads them?
We start our discussions with an open round-table format. But if conversation dwindles, then our moderator Kim Shaw refers to questions, normally from LitLovers!

With 40 members, how do you select books?
Members suggest titles online, through Meetup.com. Then a list is compiled, and everyone votes for their 12 favorites.

Any rules?
Yes, we've implemented two:

  1. We expect each member to be respectful of one another's opinions.
  2. We have an attendance rule. Since we often meet at restaurants, we can't have members who say they're coming but don't show. Brand new members' names are removed after one no-show, and older members after three. Members who are simply inactive for six months also have their names removed.

Do you do anything outside your meetings?
We go to book-based movies and author signings together. Recently a number of us ran in a local race against violence (see photo).

Generally, how would you describe your club?
Our club is very diverse. People come from all walks of all life with all different backgrounds, and everyone has something interesting to contribute.


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