Epicureaders' Guidelines

Purpose. Demoted to secondary: In-depth contemplation of selected readings to gain a better understanding of these works and their ideas and themes; build analytical skills. Secondary Primary purpose is social: the meetings are an opportunity to interact with friends on an intellectual level and meet new friends.

Members' Commitment. Members agree to meet once a month to discuss a mutually-agreed-upon book. Members take turn leading the discussion (see discussion leader) and take turn hosting a theme dinner party (see hosting duties/dinner). Members take turn selecting books. It is understood that members will not always be able to attend every meeting. Members agree to announce ASAP if they are unable to attend a meeting.

Communication. Primary means of communication is email. We have an epicureaders listserv. Dinner theme, food contributions, and special instructions should all be emailed. Questions and information about the book may be circulated in advance of meetings. (As of late 2008, we have an Epicureaders' facebook group. You can post discussion questions, comments or photos to our group: http://tinyurl.com/a3soon. In 2011, Facebook eliminated our group since we didn't use it enough.) Each member should create a personal distribution email list with current members. Lena will inform the group of changes to the membership.

Meeting Date. To be decided at each meeting by the attending members. As of September 2011: We will do a poll which closes on the last day of the month before the meeting. On the first day of the meeting month, the host chooses a date and announces it via email to the group.

Location. Meetings are held at members' homes on a rotation basis. The group meets occasionally at other venues but not on a regular basis.

Hosting Duties/Dinner. The host decides on the dinner theme and announces it to the rest of the group at least one week before the meeting via email. The host provides the main course and members provide other courses "potluck-style". (It is acceptable for a member other than the host to bring the main course.) Members will announce their dishes to the host and webmaster. The menu will be posted on the website as it is known to help members decide what to bring. Food and beverages should follow the theme. The host will coordinate the dishes to make sure all areas of the dinner are covered, and it will be at the host's discretion to make final assignments.

Discussion Leader. A Discussion leader is chosen on a volunteer basis (not necessarily the person who suggested the book). The discussion leader is the member who chose the book. The informal discussion leader presents a brief biographical sketch of the author at the beginning of the discussion and may read excerpts from reviews about the book or other relevant biographical data. The discussion leader should prepare a few questions to initiate the discussion. Each member should bring at least one comment or question for the group. The actual discussion will cull members' thoughts about the book and will generate spontaneous ideas for further discussion among the group. The host and discussion leader are responsible for keeping the group to the timeline and the discussion leader ensures all members have the opportunity to speak.

Discussion. Members agreed to enhance our book discussions with more advance preparation. The suggestion was made to research reviews of the book at the time it was published (contrasting those reviews with the impact of the book over time and how criticism may have changed). Each member should have at least one comment about the book. Other suggestions for enhancing the discussion included bringing more background materials for reference, keeping to a timeline, and not letting social chat overwhelm the book discussion. We have been discussing the book during dinner and that seems to work well.

Members Comments on Books. Members collaborate to write a brief review of each book: what was significant to the group about the book, why we liked or didn't like the book, whether we recommend it to others, etc. The review is compiled by the discussion leader, ideally at the meeting. We may consider assigning a rating to books and reviewing books retrospectively.

Selection Schedule. A new book will be selected each month. The book is selected by members on a rotation basis. at the end of each meeting after dinner and discussion. The book assignment schedule is made at the beginning of the year. Assignments can be changed to accommodate new members and members may switch months at will.

Poetry Interlude. Instead of reading a book, each member chooses one or two poems to share. Email your poem to Lena for posting on the web site for other group members to read in advance. You will lead the discussion for your poem. You may wish to speak about the poet's life and how it influenced the poem or about a technical aspect of the poem (structure, imagery, etc.).

Short Story Interlude. (Added May 2001) Must be scheduled 2 months in advance. Each member chooses one brief short story for group discussion (10 pages or less is ideal). Copies are passed out to members at the meeting before the short story interlude or you may send your short story via email. Members will read all stories. You will lead the discussion for your story. (Eliminated Jan 2002)

Book Selection. Lena will post the list of suggested books on the reading list web page. Members should take a look at the list before each meeting to decide future choices. Books can be added to the list at any time. We may consider voting or some other form of consensus to decide which books are included in the list. Submissions should include a short description of why the book would be a good choice (what is the book about, why are you interested in it). Submissions should include the number of pages, approximate price, and availability of the book. Tip: Amazon.com lists number of pages (Eliminated 1/23/02). Members take turns choosing books. Rotation is not an exact science. It is based on several factors including who has chosen the least number of books and when they last chose. Book assignments are made at the beginning of each year for the entire year. Members should announce their book choices as soon as they are known (Added Jan 2005).

Subject or Theme. The types of books read each month should be varied. The planning group was particulary interested in poetry, and Stacey suggested a "poetry interlude".

At the January 2009 meeting, members proposed:

At the January 2001 meeting, members proposed:

At the January 2002 meeting, members proposed:

Selection Criteria. An important consideration is selecting books that will be interesting for group discussion. The goal is not to pick a book that everyone will like, but to pick one worthy of intellectual discussion. It should be provocative and fun to read as a group. If we decide on a topical theme to span several months, everyone should read each book even if they miss a meeting (revised 1/23/02).

Restrictions on Books. Members who have already read a book proposed should indicate if they would be willing to read it again.

Adding New Members. Any member is welcome to invite friends to join. By mutual agreement, the group will remain exclusively for women at this time. New members have a 3-meeting trial period. See new member FAQs.

Guests. Guests are potential members or friends who come to a meeting to join the discussion for a particular book. Guests are expected to read the book.

Web Site. (www.epicureaders.com) The website is updated at least once a month. Send your poems, recipes, and book comments to Lena for posting.

Reading Group Name. "Epicureaders" (invented separately by both Lena and Margo). Other names not chosen include:

Revision History. Based on the original reading group proposal by Lena, these guidelines were amended at the planning meeting on January 18, 2000 by Rosalie, Stacey and Lena. The guidelines were amended after the year-end meeting in January 2001 (number of pages changed from 350 to 250. Only one book will be chosen at a time rather than two.). In May 2001, the short story interlude was added. The guidelines were amended again after the year-end meeting in January 2002: Members will take turns selecting a book. Dinner theme will be announced 2 weeks in advance and dishes will be announced at least 1 week in advance. It's acceptable to announce the dinner theme one week in advance. January 2005: added members comments section. September 2011: new way to pick meeting dates -- using a poll.