Author Archive: Ted Balcom

Ted Balcom lives in Arlington Heights, IL and conducts workshops on leading book discussions, about which he has also published a book: Book Discussions for Adults: A Leader’s Guide (American Library Association, 1992).

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Discussing “Still Life”

Discussing “Still Life”

Is a mystery always only a mystery, or can it be a work of literary fiction? This is the question the Adult Reading Round Table Literary Fiction Discussion Group addressed earlier this year by taking a close look at Louise Penny’s first Chief Inspector Gamache mystery novel, Still Life (published in 2005).  Note that I […]

Posted in: Book Groups
The Lace Reader

The Lace Reader

Have any of you BG Buzzers out there read The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry?  At my library, it’s classed as a “mystery,” although I noticed that on the cover, the publisher calls it a “novel.”  I’ve been puzzling over it, for a number of reasons, so I guess in that sense it is a […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Getting Edgy
By February 13, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

Getting Edgy

The Adult Reading Round Table ‘s Quarterly Literary Fiction Discussion Group is going to try something different for its upcoming spring meeting.  The group is planning to meet in a bar rather than at a library.  The reason for this change of scene relates specifically to the theme of the session — the participants will […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Discussing “Cutting for Stone”
By January 30, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

Discussing “Cutting for Stone”

Has your book group discussed Abraham Verghese’s big, drama-stuffed novel, Cutting for Stone, yet?  From what I’ve been hearing, it’s currently a very popular choice with book clubs, even though it weighs in at well over 600 pages.  Because of the book’s length, I assigned it to my group in November for our January selection […]

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Walking the Tightrope of Grief
By November 7, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Walking the Tightrope of Grief

The October selection for my library book group was Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann.  This 2009 novel has won a number of prizes, including the National Book Award.  Set in New York City, it takes as its central motif the famous 1974 tightrope walk of Philippe Petit between the World Trade Center […]

Posted in: Book Awards, Book Groups
Fascinating Olive
By October 8, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Fascinating Olive

I can’t stop thinking about Olive Kitteridge. Olive, the book written by Elizabeth Strout (for which she was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), and Olive, the woman — a large-boned, blunt-talking retired schoolteacher living in a small Maine town — who dominates the pages of Strout’s engrossing novel.  Olive Kitteridge is the book […]

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Visiting About “The Goon Squad”
By September 13, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Visiting About “The Goon Squad”

The last 15 minutes of every Adult Reading Round Table Steering Committee meeting are reserved for reading recommendations offered by the committee members to each other.  It’s a great way to learn what your colleagues are reading and what their reactions are to these books — and at the same time, pick up some ideas about […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Online Book Discussions: Pros and Cons
By August 26, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Online Book Discussions: Pros and Cons

At a recent workshop on leading book discussions that I presented to graduate students at Dominican University, the talk turned to online book discussions, and participants enumerated some of the strengths and weaknesses of this form of sharing ideas about books. Here are the “pros” of this format, as defined by the group: 1.  Gives […]

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Giving Credit to “Liars”
By August 4, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Giving Credit to “Liars”

Last week my library book group discussed Ann Patchett’s first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars.  The main reason we decided to examine this book is that several members of the group had greatly enjoyed reading and talking about Bel Canto, another of Patchett’s novels.  (Many of you may be familiar with Bel Canto, since […]

Posted in: Book Groups
The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife is a recently published novel by a young author named Tea Obreht, and it is quite simply one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.  Obreht has been named to The New Yorker’s list of “20 Under 40” — the magazine’s choice of the most exceptional young […]

Posted in: Book Groups