People start to arrive any time between 7.30 and 8pm. It’s a time for small talk, for catching up on gossip. If there is someone new, we introduce each other.
Around 8pm, we start to discuss the book. Some book groups have a rule that the person who chose the book should be the one to introduce it with a short summary and a few comments. That is not how we operate. Some people are very talkative, while others are reticent so the convenor usually starts with an open question such as, ‘Who’d like to go first.’ Conversation usually flows quite easily. Everyone is allowed space to contribute their thoughts and opinions while no one, of course, is obliged to speak. There is always an opportunity towards the end for anyone who didn’t to do so.
Some people may have not finished the book or may have failed to get hold of a copy but still come to the meeting. That’s OK with us.
The discussion of the book usually finishes about 9pm. After recharging our glasses, we may choose a few more books or dates. These are done as far in advance as possible so as to give people a chance to order the books and read them and also to avoid clashes with other dates in their diaries. Then it’s back to conversation about anything people want to talk about. Some leave at this point, as they have travelled some distance and have work the next day. Others linger to enjoy an evening of good company.