Monday, July 18, 2011

Men Who Read

Bill, Rusty, Irv, Dave, Rich and me (Steve is taking the picture).

Last night I had the great pleasure of meeting with my first book club.  Ohhhh, yes – I actually got to chat with a group of people who were not close relatives and who voluntarily read my novel.  Now, this was no ordinary book group – this was my favorite book group.  Why?  Because my husband is a member (and, okay, yes, he may or may not have had something to do with the group’s July book selection).  When I first met my sweetie, I asked him what the last book he read was.  When he told me it was Middlesex and that he was in an all-male book club, I swooned.  Can you imagine anything more thrilling to a writer and English teacher?  I was supremely impressed with him and his book group – and eventually got to know all the members in the group as friends. 

So, this book group was going to read Shame the Devil.  I was excited.  I was nervous!  Would they hate it?  Sit politely with tight faces and say the book was “interesting?”  I was, after all, their friend’s wife!  Furthermore, this was an all-male book group – would they be able to connect to my story about Fanny Fern, a woman writer from the 19th-century?

Happily, we had a terrific time!  Not only did the group like the book, they asked almost two hours worth of thoughtful questions and we got to discuss a whole range of topics – the Civil War, 19th-century medicine, the literary canon, the rise of literacy and the media in the U.S., women’s and marginalized people’s rights.

These wonderful men wowed me with their knowledge and their curiosity, with their insights and their questions.  And, they slashed a flaming hole through the stereotype of men who don’t read, not to mention the myth about men who won’t read books about women.  I remain supremely impressed.


  1. Oh, yes, those book-reading males are sexy beasts, aren't they? When I met my husband, I was thrilled that he owned even more books than I did. Now, of course, our floors heave beneath the bookcases holding our combined and ever-growing library. But that's okay with me!

  2. You said it perfectly, Anne!

  3. Debra,
    After reading Shame the Devil for the book club, Bill passed it onto me. I am enjoying it immensely...I'll miss Sarah/ Fanny when I finish!I grew up, then went to and all women's college in Boston about a century after the period of Shame the captured the essence of the times perfectly. Congratulations!!
    Debbie Berg

  4. It's a great book that I have already recommended to several people, including my wife. Now that I see the picture, I feel I should have also been holding a baseball bat, basketball, or power tool too. We need to keep up our masculine side :).

  5. @Debbie -- thank you so much for your kind words. It's nice to see the book is also enjoyed by women! ;) And, Dave -- funny! (We could always do another picture . . . maybe at a construction site this time?)