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BETWEEN THE LINES

Happy 25th Birthday, Stones & Bones Book Group

My book group is 25 years old this year. We formed at a local independent bookstore, but switched to meeting in members' homes about a decade later. (Full disclosure: we were asked to leave. Sometimes there were author events at the store at the same time and our book discussions were too noisy!)
 
We chose the Stones & Bones name because of some of our favorite reads those first few years (Stones from the River, The Bone People, Stone Diaries). Over the years, the vast majority of our selections are contemporary literary fiction, but we've also read memoirs, other nonfiction, poetry, and classics. Occasionally we'll read two books, either together or over two months. Recently, for example, we read the novel There Thereand the nonfiction book Rez Life, and we went together to the film Dawnland. Most of the time, however, we gather in a living room with tea and wine, nibbles and the novel we've all read and are eager to discuss. Heavenly.
 
Most people think of reading as an individual experience, but literary discussion groups are part of a tradition that is centuries old. Before books were readily available, sharing them and reading aloud made a lot of sense. In 15thcentury France, a group of women gathered to spin during the long winter evenings, reading aloud to each other from books written "against the honor of the female sex" and making disparaging comments. In the mid 17thcentury, British mill workers met at 5 a.m. to read Shakespeare together before their shift.
 
In addition to typical book groups, a Google search reveals some unusual ones: a "context-dependence and monsters reading group" at MIT, a Buffy discussion group at a Chicago bookstore, a walking book group across Hampstead Heath, knitting book groups, Black Lives Matter and Active Citizen book groups, bilingual book groups.
 
Although the Stones & Bones membership has changed some over the years, most of us have been reading together for a couple of decades. What a pleasure it is; happy book group birthday to us.

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