Magazine article Book

Boys Club: This All-Male Book Group Defies Convention

Magazine article Book

Boys Club: This All-Male Book Group Defies Convention

Article excerpt

FOUR AND A HALF YEARS AGO, David Sigelman decided to start a book group made up entirely of men, a surprisingly novel concept. Most general-interest reading groups--like the one Sigelman's wife attends--comprise only women.

Why? For one thing, some women's groups find a man can be a problematic addition. "Frequently when we have men in a group," says Carol Schuldt, a book group facilitator at the Minnesota Women's Press, "it seems like all attention goes to the man when he begins to speak." Some men tend to preach, Schuldt has observed, and the dynamic that finds women in a book group willing to share openly can be upset by the presence of a pontificating basso profundo. Also, there's the theory that men simply won't enjoy the reflective exchange at the heart of the book group experience: They'd rather talk about the deck they built or the fish they caught.

Despite these presumed obstacles, Sigelman easily rounded up a collection of other Northampton, Massachusetts, men--including several doctors, a dentist, a lawyer and a retired middle school teacher--who, in fact, were eager to read novels together. "Our group," Sigelman says, "looks for books that create an expansive reading experience." Though Sigelman brought the members together, he declined a leadership role, and the group has been run as a democracy for more than four years.

With one exception, Sigelman says, the members live in the same neighborhood and are all in their fifties. But he says that what the group lacks in diversity, it makes up for in its reading selections. Sigelman says that because one of their goals is to "hear voices in the literature that they otherwise wouldn't hear," they often read the work of international authors, including the recent selections Blindness by the Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago and Disgrace by the South African writer J. …

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