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Beacon Senior News

No chicks allowed: Men should give book clubs a chance

Mar 25, 2020 03:57PM ● By Melanie Wiseman

The majority of Boomers I encounter are avid readers. With an increase in free time, men and women alike are devouring books and passing their “must-reads” on to others.

It comes as no surprise that many women I know are part of a book club (or two), but I started to wonder where all the men were. Surely, male book lovers enjoy intriguing reads and enlightened discussions just as women do.

Freedom & flexibility

My curiosity got the better of me and through word of mouth, I found Steve Watson, Dennis Kirtland and the Grand Book Club.

Watson, 74, and Kirtland, 72, have been the club’s driving force for 31 years. They started the group while they were in their 40s because they missed the challenging reads and discussions of their college years. Watson keeps a list of every book that club members have read since day one.

Members come and go, but the club maintains an average of eight members.

“I don’t know of any other men’s book clubs in the Grand Valley,” Watson said. “We’ve kept it all men because women would change the dynamics—we’d have to watch our language and couldn’t talk sports!”

Grand Book Club meetings are kept simple. Men from all backgrounds engage in great conversations—travel, family and movies, in addition to books—over popcorn and beer.

So why don’t more men join book clubs? Among the reasons Watson and Kirtland list are that some men like a certain type of book or author (like Clive Cussler) and want to stick with what they know and like. They also tend to be reticent and may not like the give-and-take of a discussion where opinions differ from their own.

Just to get my goat, a man I spoke to recently said, “I understand the books I read, so I don’t need a book club to tell me what I already know.”

Online articles try to tackle the mystery of men missing from book clubs, suggesting they remind men of bad memories from high school English class. Or, men simply don’t want others to choose what they read and attach a timeline to it.

Maybe this will inspire you

While the Grand Book Club isn’t seeking new members, Watson and Kirtland recommend that men read the stories on www.manbookclub.blogspot.com. This blog follows a group of 15 men in Marin County, California, who share their reads and discussions as well as memorable meals and adventures together. Maybe it will inspire you to start a book club of your own.

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