Some Men Can Read Book Club

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Started in 1992, the Toronto-based Some Men Can Read Book Club is a rarity in that we are all men - hence the name.

The very idea that a group of men would meet once a month to discuss a book raised quite a few eyebrows among friends and colleagues. We viewed it as a novel (sic) idea and after 119 books we are still going strong. From meager beginnings, with just five members, the SMCR Book Club now numbers thirteen. This includes a member who moved to Ottawa in 1998 and who maintains his association with the club by way of monthly book reports.

The format is relatively simple; one person picks a book and a month later we reconvene to discuss what we had read. Early on we decided that meeting at a local pub was best suited to our group, although in the summer months we often meet at someone's home, where we can enjoy warm evenings and the requisite barbeque. And, lest anyone still adheres to the stereotype that men read only to learn (think how-to manuals) . . .well, attending one of our meetings would quash any such stereotype.

We discussed the notion of setting a number of rules to guide the club, but very quickly it became apparent we eschewed any form of bureaucracy. The only requirements are to read the book and come prepared to participate in the discussion. Experienced readers in the group had aversions to certain authors, but we do not dissuade anyone from his choice. As a result our book list is an eclectic one, running the gamut from Asimov to Zola - including classic works of fiction (Great Expectations, The Good Earth, Frankenstein); recent bestsellers (The Corrections, Cold Mountain, Mercy Among the Children); and, a selection of non-fiction (Fire in the Belly, Into Thin Air, A Civil Action).

As an oddity in the world of book clubs, we have had the good fortune of being featured in various media. We were featured in a segment about book clubs on TVO's Imprint in 1996. Also, a book club member wrote an essay about our group that was published in the Globe and Mail in 1998. He also appeared as a member of the Canada AM Book Club segment in May and June, 2001. Serendipity lives!

With over ten years as a group under our belt, and a similar number of annual September getaways (where our culinary, golfing and fishing expertise is put to the test), the SMCR Book Club soldiers on. Plans for a SMCR website are in the preliminary stage, headed up by of all people, a recovering Luddite. Who ever said reading can't change your life?

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