By October 31, 2008 1 Comments Read More →

Changes in conversation

I know I’ve blogged numerous times about Luncheon of the Boating Party and the book discussions I’ve attended for it, but it occurred to me last night how very differently readers will approach a book.

This is nothing surprising for any of us who facilitate book groups, but how often do we get to see this postulate in action? For the fourth time this year, I lead discussion on Susan Vreeland’s wildly popular fictional account of the summer Renoir spent painting his masterpiece.

The local AAUW book group was completely fascinated with the characters assembled for the painting. They loved the act of flipping back and forth from the pages of the book to the reproduction of the painting provided. While doing this, one of the attendees piped up that she thought the painting was also a character in the novel.

She pointed out that the many emotions and actions of the models, on and off the canvas, were qualities that contributed to the development of the painting. She had us all convinced when she pointed out the dramatic change in the painting once Circe was removed from the scene. Both the painting and the other models’ lives were impacted with the absence of this pivotal woman.

I was hooked. I hadn’t heard this theory before, but it worked for me and the rest of the group. I have so much discussable material on this book that came from all the groups, that I don’t know if I’ll ever use the publisher provided reading guide again.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

1 Comment on "Changes in conversation"

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  1. carr@ils.unc.edu' David Carr says:

    One of my finest students taught me that simply using the cover of the book as a way to start a discussion is a useful way to ease into its content. When leading groups I find myself caressing books, looking at the images and typography, then starting to talk about my expectations based on the visual stimuli, inviting others to comment from the outside in. This even works with minimalist covers, allowing speculation on what alternative covers or designs might have accomplished. Of course, as Ms. Stover points out, this is a way to embrace the physical book as a meaningful artifact, apart from its content.

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