Barely A Crime (novel)
Novel Thoughts blog

Reading and Community

November 23, 2015 5:49 pm | 3 Comments


The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, has a profile of the Misfits, a group of men who get together to read and discuss works of literature:

On a soggy November evening, 14 Catholic men sloshed their way to a taproom in Stillwater, shook off the rain, grabbed a craft beer and headed up to the mezzanine to talk about “A Tale of Two Cities.”

At least at the start they did…

The article has a number of great quotes from the men in the group: “These books have shown us how broad and diverse the Catholic Church is. Look at this group, all the different professions contained here. The greatest benefit is our getting together as Catholics exploring the richness of our faith.”  “I’ve been exposed to books I wouldn’t otherwise have read.”  “We read literature because it’s exciting and timeless. It’s transformative. It gives you insights into man’s condition that are remarkable.”

We’ve been very interested in promoting reading groups here at Ignatius Press. Our own staff members belong to various reading groups, and so when we launched this Ignatius Press Novels page one thing we really wanted to have on it was reading guides to assist those who want to read our novels as a group. The latest reading guide—put together by the author herself—is for Fiorella De Maria’s We’ll Never Tell Them.

You can find all of our books with downloadable discussion guides here at our Book Club page.

Do you participate in a reading group or book club? Share any tips you may have about running a reading group here in the comments! And if you have any brilliant ideas of how we might help reading groups more, let us know!

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Tags: book clubs reading groups


  1. November 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I helped form a monthly Catholic men’s reading group in the summer of 2004, and we are still going strong over eleven years later. We usually have 12-15 guys, sometimes more. My wife has been part of two women’s reading groups, and both ended after a few months. So, what gives? Why the contrast? It’s hard to tell, exactly, because so much of it simply comes down to the people involved. That said, I think our group has worked for a few other reasons:

    1. When we first met, the two of us who founded the group made it clear what we wanted the group to be: a gathering of Catholic men discussing good books of theology, philosophy, and related matters, and approaching them with mind and heart of the Church. Our ultimate goal is to grow in both wisdom and holiness, becoming better disciples of Christ.

    2. I sometimes refer to the group as a “benevolent dictatorship” because, on one hand, each and every guy is welcome to suggest books and to say what he wants to say while, on the other hand, I sometimes make “executive decisions” based on what I think would be a good book to read and discuss. I’m always open to suggestions, and we often vote on books to read, but someone has to be the leader in some obvious way.

    3. Along those same lines, someone has to take control of communicating and organizing. There has to be a clear sense of “things are being done” but without being overly fussy or controlling about it. Communication about what is being read (and sometimes why), when and where the meeting will be, and so forth is essential.

    4. Those present should feel that they can speak openly and honestly about what has been read, as well as related matters, and know that it isn’t going to be used against them or show up on Facebook or Twitter. It helps a lot that we’ve had a priest be a part of our group for the last several years.

    5. Open with prayer.

    6. Have some beer handy.

    7. Choose, read, and discuss good to great books. If a book ends up being a stinker for some reason, learn from it.

  2. John Herreid

    November 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Sounds like some solid rules! Especially #6.

  3. November 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    By the way, our group is called The Neo-Inklings. No t-shirts yet, but perhaps on the 20th anniversary…

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