Tillson details how the original group was composed of white men, almost all somewhat liberal in their political leanings, and how over the years, the group became more racially diverse. Most of these men are what one could describe as influencers; they had achieved a lot in their lives and most of them were quite busy-carving out time for monthly book club meetings has required high levels of persistence and commitment.
They meet monthly. Members alternate in selecting books. The man who picks the book also decides where each meeting will take place. They usually met at restaurants. Some years after the club was formed they also began hosting annual retreats.
Their weekend retreats in Michigan, and in the Hocking Hills area, gave them opportunities to forge deeper connections, to discuss books of course, as well as just about anything under the sun.
Tillson recounts how certain books opened floodgates of discourse as members expounded upon race, politics, technology, and even the occasional fiction title. True to form, these guys are reading mostly non-fiction.
At the end of the book there’s an appendix listing most of the books they have read together; It is long and impressive. Here are some random examples: “Lincoln at Gettysburg” by Gary Wills, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson, and “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon.
In 2013 this reviewer had the pleasure of sitting in on one of their meetings. That night we discussed “Standing in Another Man’s Grave” by the Scottish novelist Ian Rankin. The food was lovely. The conversation was lively. That experience gave this reviewer an appreciation of what has motivated these men to get together and to keep on doing it for all of these years.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org