The recent announcement of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth being given the O’Connor award for outstanding short story collection (see my post) made me wonder if this book would be a good pick for our neighborhood discussion group.
The book groups I’ve participated in have never successfully discussed a short story collection, or, for that matter, any collection of essays. We tried Anna Quindlen’s Loud and Clear; it was a struggle to discuss because there were so many topics included in this well-regarded book.
Random House offers a Reader’s Guide for Unaccustomed Earth. This is a good starting point, but my feeling is that even this list of questions would have to be whittled down to a manageable handful prior to any book group meeting, to give participants the opportunity to better prepare.
I’m very interested in how this is done. There’s an entire genre that my group has been avoiding because we haven’t had a good “flow” with this type of book in the past!
Has your group found a comfortable way to handle mutiple stories? Do you each select one to lead a short discussion of? Do you use the democratic process, everyone gets to vote for 3 and the top five get the floor? Does the hostess select a handful to analyze, compare and contrast?
Do you have any suggestions for successfully discussion short stories collections in a book group setting?