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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Why So Few Men Join Book Groups

Why So Few Men Join Book Groups

Whenever book group leaders get together to chat, eventually the same perplexing question arises, “What can be done to get men (or more men) to join our groups?”  After over 30 years of leading book groups, I can state with great conviction that there are no new answers.  Here are the time-honored techniques that seem […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Discussing “Little Bee”

Discussing “Little Bee”

Misha’s recent posts about the “Seattle Reads” program involving Little Bee prompt me to write about my own experience discussing this powerful novel with the Adult Reading Round Table Literary Fiction group. Here are some of the aspects of the book that intrigued our circle of readers:  Chris Cleave’s ability to create the voices of […]

Posted in: Book Groups, Book News
New Ideas for Discussion Groups

New Ideas for Discussion Groups

Recently I’ve become aware of a couple of discussion groups that are slightly different from the norm, and I thought I’d share information about them with Book Group Buzz readers.  Who knows — you may like these ideas and decide to adapt them into similar groups at your library, or just among your friends. “Novel […]

Posted in: Book Groups, Book News
Is Everybody in the Mood?

Is Everybody in the Mood?

When you are preparing to lead a book discussion, do you ever think about which members of your group will probably respond very positively to the book?  Which ones will be more critical?  Which ones may have a lukewarm reaction?  I do. Sometimes I’m quite accurate with my predictions, but other times I miss the […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Promoting Book Clubs While Highlighting Resources
By April 19, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Promoting Book Clubs While Highlighting Resources

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library, where I lead a book discussion group every month, has created a resource area for book discussion leaders, both those who conduct programs in the library and library patrons who lead groups composed of friends and neighbors. Twenty reference books containing helpful information of great interest to discussion leaders are […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Discussing Poetry and Short Stories

Discussing Poetry and Short Stories

Last week I had a conversation with a colleague about discussing poetry and short stories in groups.  We talked about how these discussions differ from the so-called “regular” book discussion, and afterwards I thought about how little I’ve seen in books and articles about literary discussions that touch on preparing prospective leaders for developing poetry […]

Posted in: Book Groups
The Importance of Reading and Book Groups

The Importance of Reading and Book Groups

Anyone who is in a book group and who hasn’t yet read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, should not delay another day.  This book, about a book group during the Second World War on the isle of Guernsey, is a natural choice for a discussion […]

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Figuring Out What’s “Love” Got To Do With It
By February 18, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Figuring Out What’s “Love” Got To Do With It

When the Adult Reading Round Table’s Quarterly Literary Fiction Discussion Group met recently to talk about The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, more than half of the participants admitted they found the book confusing.  The novel employs multiple narrators, and frequently the readers weren’t sure who was doing the talking. It was revealed during […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Feedback Requested
By February 11, 2011 2 Comments Read More →

Feedback Requested

Recently Neil has been doing a great job of letting us know which books published during the past year are winding up on the critics’s “best” lists.  What I’m curious about is whether our Book Group Buzz readers are planning to use any of these titles in upcoming book discussions.  Or maybe you have already?  […]

Posted in: Book Groups, Book News
Exploring “The Known World”
By January 30, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Exploring “The Known World”

The Known World is the first (and so far, only) novel by Edward P. Jones.  It was published in 2003 and received high praise from many critics.  It then went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize.  But is it a good book […]

Posted in: Book Groups