Book clubs come in all sorts of configurations: some are organized by genre, some exist to maintain life-long friendships or foster new ones. Some groups prefer to read fiction, others non-fiction, some folks love a mix.
They meet in libraries or book stores, in members’ homes, in restaurants.
Today, we’re profiling a group whose members are tied together by both an alma mater and a profession.
“We loved your article on book clubs and we would love to have our club featured,” wrote Deb Downing, a spokesperson for the Wright State Social Work Alumni Society Book Club. “We’ve been meeting for about three years and usually we meet in member’s homes and enjoy wine, dinner, laughter and some discussion of our monthly book selection.”
Downing, who is from Huber Heights, says participants love to read and love the companionship of one another.
“We don’t always agree, but we always laugh a lot!” she said.
WHO THEY ARE: The Wright State Social Work Alumni Society Book Club
A LITTLE BACKGROUND: The book club was formed after a discussion among members of the WSU Social Work Alumni Society about a course being taught by Faculty Liaison Sarah Twill titled “Mental Health and Contemporary Fiction.”
“The course sounded interesting and many of us were readers, so we decided to form our own book club,” Downing explained.
WHEN/WHERE THEY MEET: The groups generally get together on a monthly basis at the home of one of the members or alternatively, plans an activity in the community based on the book they are reading. They’ve invited local author, Katrina Kittle, to come to discuss her books and they took a field trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright Westcott House in Springfield after reading the book “Loving Frank.” After reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, they hiked at Glen Helen in Yellow Springs.
WHAT THEY READ: “We mainly read contemporary fiction, especially books that we can tie to a theme related to social work,” Downing explained. “However, we have no hard-and-fast rules about what we read, especially if there is something we all want to read. Our all-time attendance record was the month we read “50 Shades of Grey.”
HOW THEY PICK BOOKS: Selection of books is by group consensus. Recent selections include: “The Light Between Oceans,” State of Wonder,” “Those We Love the Most” and “Gone Girl.”
THEIR MEETING FORMAT: The goal, Downing said, is to have a fun evening with food and wine. Club chair, Libby Nicholson, is the group’s informal leader.
“Her job is to keep us on task,” Downing said.
“We have gone to the movie adaptation of several books we have read, and last month we researched and prepared a feast of Australian food as the book we read — ‘The Light Between Oceans’ by M.L. Stedman — is set in Australia.”
“We just read the book and come and talk,” Downing said. With this club, no one is required to do formal research on the book or author.
WHAT MEMBERS SAY: “Because we are a group of social workers, we are able to tackle difficult topics and engage in meaningful conversation about them.” — Libby Nicholson, book club chair, Dayton
“Our similar shared context makes the discussion of books engaging.” — Terri Bunting, Centerville
“I enjoy the ability to engage in discussion of contemporary topics.” — Jenny Otto, Fairborn
“Our book club is a safe environment to discuss the difficult topics/themes that we read about in our books.” — Kathy Hatton, Beavercreek
BOOKS THEY LOVED AND WHY:
- “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn: Plot twists, perspectives
- “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Sklott and “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir by Neil White”: Very specific topics.
- “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova: Very realistic
ADVICE TO OTHERS STARTING A BOOK CLUB OR NEW MEMBERS:
- Have fun; don’t take it too seriously.
- Everyone welcome, even if you haven’t read the book.
- Half of the fun is the discussion about what book to pick, what food to eat, etc.
- This book club likes to also dream up a cast for the movie about the books they read.
- The book club keeps a running list of all books read.
HOW TO JOIN:
This book club is open to alumni and friends of the WSU Social Work Department. For information, contact Deb Downing at email@example.com or (937) 776-4831.
Tell us about your book club
In Life, we want to share the stories of people in the Dayton area who have been brought together by their love of reading. We’re inviting your book club to share its history and format as well as your members’ favorite books. Your feedback may inspire others to form their own groups, join your group if possible or provide ideas on books they’d like to add to their reading list.
If your book group would like to participate, send information to Meredith Moss: MMoss@coxohio.com. Be sure to leave a daytime phone number.