Here at the Monitor we feel as if we know a lot about you, our readers. We know that you’re well informed. We know that you have a global vision. We understand that you tend to have deep concerns about social justice and a fundamental belief that there are answers to the most seemingly complex of problems.
And oh yes – something else we know about our readers: You love books.
Your enthusiasm for books manifests itself in your responses to our books section and also in the large numbers of hits that we get on our website whenever we post a story about books.
And if we needed any further evidence of your interest, we would have found it in The Books Beat, the book group we recently launched on our Facebook page.
Marketers told us that we’d be doing well if we attracted as many as 400 members in the first month. Instead, we got almost 1,000 immediately. The site is utterly vibrant – enthusiastic readers sharing book tips with one another, asking and answering book questions of all kinds.
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that our readers love to spend time with books. We here on staff are pretty much the same. For proof of that we need look no further than our in-house Monitor book club.
Once a month a group of us gathers at lunchtime to discuss our most recent pick. Sometimes we coordinate a shared lunch to reflect the book’s setting. (We had Indian food for “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” by Katherine Boo, and everyone loved the Australian pavlova one of our staffers made for our discussion of “In a Sunburned Country,” by Bill Bryson.) But other times we’re content simply to be lunching out of our own plastic containers and brown paper bags. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the discussion. And of course, the books.
We try to alternate fiction and nonfiction picks. We’ve had our out-and-out successes. (Just about everyone loved “A Gentleman in Moscow,” by Amor Towles.) We’ve had our controversies. (Some found “West with the Night,” by Beryl Markham, to be dated and insensitive while others loved the book’s language and its atmospherics.)
And we’ve had our debates about what kind of reading is most enjoyable. (Some found the use of dialect in “Sea of Poppies,” by Amitav Ghosh, burdensome while others enjoyed the rich history and global feel of this selection; some found “The Devotion of Suspect X,” by Keigo Higashino, to be an engaging intellectual puzzle while others complained that it felt cold and lacked credible characters.)
But where we come together without debate is in our love of the reading process and the chance to share our enthusiasm with others. Most of us consider book club days a high point of the month. Some staffers even rearrange their vacation plans to prevent missing a session.
Does this sound a bit like you? If so, there’s a good reason you belong to the Monitor family.
Please feel free to write us and tell us what you’re enjoying for summer reading this year. Who knows? Your pick could be our next book club selection.