Reading Group Center

Barbara Delinsky On Why Reading Groups Are Important

It’s easy to see why book clubs love Barbara Delinsky’s books. Barbara writes with warmth and wit, and the stories she tells hit close to home. As the Boston Globe put it in their review of Not My Daughter, she’s a “perceptive observer of family relationships”—so there’s always something to discuss! In this exclusive essay, Barbara discusses her own experiences with reading groups, and explains why book clubs are so important to her.

I’ve been a book group enthusiast for twenty-three years, which is how I long I’ve belonged to one. We meet monthly, take turns hosting and leading the discussion, and pick our books for the year over wine and dinner each June. To this day, our list is eclectic, including many books that I never would have read on my own, but isn’t that one of the points of a book group—to nudge us beyond our immediate comfort zone? Some months, I’ve gone to book group desperate for the other members to help me make sense of a book. Other months, I’ve felt indifferent about a book until members bring it to life for me. Our best discussions are often the ones to which we bring pieces of our own very diverse lives.

Actually, some of our most memorable discussions have been on books we hated. That always makes me smile. Back in my photography days, one of my teachers said that a good photograph was one that evoked emotion, be it good or bad. The same is true of a book, which is one of the reasons I love it when reading groups discuss my books. I write in layers; these groups bring those layers alive in ways that no one member on her own can do. The more heated the discussion, the better.

It’s not that I write books with reading groups in mind, rather that reading groups are so ingrained in my psyche that the finished product works for them. Not My Daughter makes us think about how we define a good mother. Escape makes us think about the evolution of our dreams as we live and grown. Both make us think about responsibility, yes, indeed, sometimes outside our comfort zones. So hate me for that, but if one of my books has made you think, I’m happy.

Not My Daughter is out now in trade paperback. Click here to read an excerpt, and click here to download our reading group guide. Plus, click here to learn more about “Sunlight and Joy,” the brand new eShort by Barbra—available for only $.99!