“Shop as Independently as You Think,” is the slogan for the Women & Children First book store in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The book store is one of the largest feminist book stores in the country and is a major player in Chicago-area independent bookselling. Along with author readings, panel discussions, and book launch parties, Women & Children First offers a number of book groups to their customers and local residents. Read all about the Women’s Book Group, led by the store’s former owner, Linda Bubon.
Leader: Linda Bubon
Years of Operation: 25 years
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Tell us a little about your book group.
Each year, we make our reading selections at a meeting in December. This time around, we had a particularly strong list of titles recommended, and many of the attendees brought reviews to bolster their suggestions. We also had an unusually varied and delicious potluck (unlike the year we all brought desserts). Perhaps after 25-plus years, we are getting the hang of it!
This month’s discussion on The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri, brought out 14 people, and we regulars were delighted that four new women came, fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions to try a book group. We had a great discussion, and I think all of us came away with a deeper understanding of a book we all valued reading.
How do your group discussions work?
Our format is simple and unchanging: we sit in a circle and say our name and talk briefly about the book, one at a time, without comment, until each one has spoken. I take notes on recurring questions, criticism, etc. Then the discussion ensues.
We honor Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and April Poetry Month with appropriate titles.
I have been leading (gently, I hope) the group since its inception, and I so enjoy it. It’s required me to read more non-fiction than I would choose, and that has really changed what I read in general.
Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?
Last year, my favorite was Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon, a book I never would have tackled, now a book I continually refer to and recommend, especially to parents and those who work with special needs children.
These are the group’s upcoming picks for 2016:
The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Jan.)
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander (Feb.)
My Life on The Road, by Gloria Steinem (March)
Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, (poetry) Patricia Smith (April)
Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood (May)
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, by Jung Chang (June)
The Door, by Magda Szabó, (July)
God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison (Aug.)
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (Sept.)
Negroland, by Margo Jefferson (Oct.)
Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, by Bonnie Jo Campbell (Nov.)
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