Carcinoid A rare form of "slow-growing" neuroendocrine cancer

Susan Anderson - An advocate for Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness

 Twenty-Five Years of Book Discussions in Arizona (1983 – 2008)


Susan L. Anderson, Tempe, AZ 85283 

I cannot imagine how barren and drab life would be without books, music, art and book discussion groups. 

Recently (April 14, 2008) I was hostess to the 19th annual pot-luck dinner and meeting of the Night Book Discussion Group for Non-Smoking Women.  At this annual meeting everyone shares some book ideas for the coming year …. I always prepare a large list and send to everyone before the meeting as do several others.  We then chose the books to be read in the coming year (voting when there is not unanimous consensus); members volunteer to be leaders and hostesses.    The goal/guideline shall be to select a variety of books with at least one book from each of the following categories annually -- when possible: biography or memoir, mystery, travel, government or politics, Arizona location, or book by an Arizona writer, self-help/self-improvement (or women’s studies), and the remaining selections from current/contemporary fiction.   

My husband and I recently (May 3, 2008) hosted the 25th annual pot-luck dinner for members of the Contemporary (Day) Book Discussion Group for Non-Smoking Women, for all participants, their spouse, or a guest.  This is a casual social evening held in the spring so we may set up tables and eat outside by the pool.  This group chose books, hostesses and leaders at a special meeting held May 7, 2008, the same way the Night Group did (see above).  

The purpose of both the Contemporary Book Discussion Group and the Night Book Discussion Group is to read and then discuss those books selected, and read, by all members.   The participants read ALL books selected, including those she/he would not have read if not selected by  the discussion group.  One goal is to read books we would not normally choose for ourselves, thus expanding our horizons and knowledge.  We all enjoy learning new things.  Both book groups operate on American democratic principles – equal opportunity for ALL members to participate in all things, unless they choose not to participate.  All discussions are more interesting when everyone expresses an opinion, all are valued and wanted.

May 17, 2004 I spoke at Changing Hands Book Store in Tempe, AZ on how to start and maintain book discussion groups.  I presented ”Guidelines for book discussion groups, meeting in private homes, that have worked for me over the decades” (available on my web site); and spoke of decisions to be made.  I gave out this information in a hand-out, and shared my email address and web page (which much more book and other information) SunnySusan@Cox.Net and  

In February 1962 in Osceola, MO (a small town of less than 1,000 people), I hosted an exploratory meeting of women in my home to discuss forming a study / book club.  The Study Guild was formally organized in March 1962.  There was a book review AND a study lesson each month ….. the topic could be American history, government, travel or almost any topic.  We did not allow talk of our husbands or children.  As of 2008 this group is still meeting monthly …. A nice legacy I left behind when I moved on to a city with my husband and children. 

When employed as secretary to the Literature Department of Stephens College in Columbia, MO, I followed the advice of a professor and in October 1969 started keeping a log of all books I read.  I surely wish I had thought to start this while in high school or college.  I did not keep this log from June 1974 until June 1982, but resumed again in the summer of 1983, and am keeping this book log current.  I have this broken into three parts and they are on my web site, in the Books section,

When we left Alexandria, Virginia, and moved to Tempe, Arizona, in 1983, I knew that I wanted and needed a book discussion group.  That first summer I attended a book discussion group, lead by Will Manley, in the Tempe Public Library.  I could not find any of the participants willing to go out for a Coke or coffee after the meetings.  It seemed almost everyone there only wanted to pontificate and was not interested in hearing views that anyone else may have or in becoming acquainted.  I wanted to make friends with other books readers and was unable to find them in this book group. 

During the late summer of 1983 I went door to door in our neighborhood with a flyer I had typed up about starting a book discussion group.  Thanks to a city directory I mailed the flyer to people in the surrounding area. 

The flyer asked: Do YOU love to read books?  Do YOU enjoy learning new things?  Do YOU enjoy exploring new subjects?  Do YOU enjoy discussing what you have read and enjoy diverse opinions?  Are YOU comfortable in a group of women who have grown up and lived in many places, with a wide variety of life experiences?  It gave the date (September 15, 1983) for the first meeting and some suggested books.  The participants now (2008) are from age 50 to age 78 years; still young at heart, busy with many activities and travel, plus eager to learn now things. 

The first meeting to discuss forming a book discussion group was held in my home Sept. 15, 1983.  The organization meeting and first discussion of the Daytime Book Group for Non-Smoking Women met in my Tempe home October 12, 1983 and we were off.  The first book read by all participants and discussed was In Search of History by Theodore H. White. 

We now have twelve (12) participants and have room for several more women who love to read, have a wide range of interest, are tolerant of others, and can disagree without being disagreeable.  A book discussion is most fulfilling when some participants love the book and some dislike the book.  Water, soft drinks and light refreshments are provided.  The meetings are in the non-smoking homes of the participants throughout the East Valley, meeting at 9:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday morning of each month.  The discussion usually lasts until 11:30 a.m. and then as many as possible go out to lunch.  There are NO dues.  All communication is via email. 

A very nice article about the book club by Lawn Griffiths in the Tribune newspaper May 28, 1996 brought a flood of phone calls. At our June 1996 meeting we had twenty-six (26) attendees, but they did not all remain.  Later we set our limit to eighteen (18) members, and now have twelve (12) active participants.  We do have room for several more and would like to have a few additional members. 

May 8, 1989, I assisted Penny Johnson form a new Night Book Discussion Group for non-smoking employed women or women unable to attend a meeting during the day.   The first book read and discussed was Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman.  This group has eleven (11) members and we would like to have two or three additional members.  We meet in the homes of members in the East Valley the second Monday evening of each month at 7:15 p.m. and end at approximately 9 p.m.  Water, soft drinks and light refreshments are provided. 

The purpose of both book discussion groups is to read and then discuss those books selected, and read, by all members.   The participants read ALL books selected, including those she would not have read if not selected by the discussion group.  The groups are NOT a lecture series or a book review series for NON-readers.  

A few of the many books that have been especially enjoyable that were read and discussed over the years: The Worst Hard Times, the Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan; Flapper by Joshua Zeitz; A History of The World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage; The Lady and The Panda by Vicki Constantine Croke; The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls; The Kite Runner by Khaled Mosseini; Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky; The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose; My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok; Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Vanished Arizona by Martha Summerhayes; The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry; Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See; The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey; Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner; The English Assassin by Daniel Silva; Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross; The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz; The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger; These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner; The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride; The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly; All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy; and Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng to name a few. 

We would like to add several new members to each group, and visiting a meeting to see if you would like this situation is welcome.  Participants live in: Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix (one) and Scottsdale (one).  I may be reached through my web page, where there is additional book information as well as western travel, humor,  travel photographs, politics, Bluegrass music, information on medical tests, drugs, breast cancer, diabetes, carcinoid cancer and fun things to assist us in living a full and active life even if dealing with cancer or a chronic disease.  Lists of ALL books read and discussed, since the organization of both book discussion groups are on my web site. 

My life has been greatly enriched by reading and by the book discussion groups, here in Arizona, and the deep and lasting friendships I have made thanks to books.


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Last modified: 07/19/15