Open for discussion

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The book was about obsessive-compulsive disorder. But before long, the circle of women lounging in a New Albany living room with glasses of wine were talking about the death of a sister, a child with attention-deficit disorder and the value of humor as a coping mechanism.

It wasn't a surprising segue for the members of the New Albany Women's Network book club. The group often finds itself discussing personal issues that are only loosely related to the book they've read.

"There have been times when I haven't liked the book, but I always like the discussion," said Jocelyn Scribano. "You don't have to have read the book to enjoy the discussion."

But members usually do complete the books and come ready to share their feelings. "We do like to be able to express ourselves," Kate Thomas added. "We are a diverse group."

For this January meeting, the evening's discussion centered around the book Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig. Of the seven members who attended the meeting, five of them finished the book, and four of them gave Traig's memoir their thumbs up.

The ability to speak your mind without worrying about offending others is one of the group's strengths, members say.

"If you're going to have a book group," said Shannon Godinez, "you want to be able to have a good discussion."

New Albany Women's Network book club

How old is the club? 9 years

How often they meet: Monthly except December and July

Number of members: 10

Can anyone join? Yes

Number of books discussed: About 90

Secret to success: Allowing a half hour for socializing before the discussion starts, so members are ready to focus on the book

By The Book

The members of the New Albany Women's Network book club share the practices that keep their club's pages turning

Hardbacks or paperbacks?

The club tries to wait until new releases are more widely available at the library.

Page limits?

No, but they pay attention to a book's length when they put it on the schedule.

How do you choose the next book to read?

Members of the group suggest titles, and after two members read them, they're put on the list.

Book that caused the most animated discussion?

Suite Francaise by Irene Nmirovsky. The fictional work about the German occupation of France provided important discussion issues.

Book that most members didn't finish:

The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone.

Ever conduct theme meetings?

The group went to an Indian restaurant to discuss Yann Martel's Life of Pi, a fantasy adventure novel about an Indian boy.

Most reliable author for a book club read:

Ann Patchett or Jhumpa Lahiri

Amount of time spent discussing a book?

About an hour

Is it better to meet at a house or restaurant?


Do you restrict the number of people?

Yes, the club likes to keep it at 10 to 12 members for discussion purposes.

Number of members who also belong to another book club?


Ever kick anybody out?


The one rule the club enforces:

Two members of the club must read -- and approve -- a book before it goes on their reading list.