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Hey dude, what are you reading?


Are men's book clubs the wave of the future? They're lapping up all over the shores of Boston Harbor, it seems. The Boston Globe finds several to profile in a piece today:

Men's book groups are coming of age, digging deeper and acquiring a seriousness of purpose commensurate with these serious times. As their members navigate complicated life passages during a period of economic upheaval to which few see an early end, men's book groups increasingly serve as a safe harbor of fellowship and solidarity -- as they long have for women.

Just like women's book groups, it turns out, sometimes they don't get around to talking about the books at all -- instead they wind up eating, drinking and talking about life's vicissitudes. But those that do get to the books have some pretty amusing criteria. Ned Pride, whose men's book group has been meeting for 16 years, explains:

"There has to be something pretty sick going on on page 69 for us to read the book," says Pride. "Either a sexual encounter or some crazy situation. You can count on it with [John] Updike or [Tom] Wolfe, guys like that."

And in a public list on Amazon called Books for Men (The Anti-Oprah Book Club), content seems to be king -- yes, king. Its 10 books, all by men, are particularly manly: "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway, "American Pastoral" by Philip Roth, "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

But that's just where the male book clubs start. Lately, Pride says, the discussion has gotten more serious. "The other night we were talking about evil. Drinking our red wine and talking about evil," Pride told the Globe. "We're moving into a deeper dimension. We don't want to read junk."

--Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John Updike in 1981. Credit: Washington Post

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Nice topic. Love the "Anti-Oprah Book Club."

I've been in an all-male book club for five years now. I wouldn't say that we read exclusively books written for/at men, but I will say that as the choice for each new book circles around the members, some tend to choose more masculine books than others.

Surprisingly, I think we stay on topic quite a bit better than the cliche about typical book clubs that spend 10 minutes on the book and 2 hours on sports/television/movies/whatever. We once had a four-hour double-header that not only tackled "The Emperor's Children" by Claire Messud but also returned to talk about our last months selection, Cormac's "The Road."


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