Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wide Open World

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to help lead the discussion about our most recent Book Club Book, Wide Open World.  By John Marshall, who won 8 Emmy awards as a tv producer, it is the true story of a six-month volunteer-cation with his wife and his two children.  Throughout the book, he describes not only the volunteering the family did but also the changing of relationships between family members.  Easy to read and flowing well, I enjoyed the book, but I am not sure it was really that great.

We did have some good discussions, however, about the place of volunteering in one's life, who gets the most out of volunteering, how volunteering changes lives, and in what ways the different people were affected by the volunteering.  The consensus seemed to be that in many ways, the volunteer usually benefits more from the activity than the organization itself, though that is not always the case.  It certainly changed the lives of the Marshall family, but in order not to give away the ending, I won't say how.

Two women in the group had read a book called Toxic Charity.  If we were to do it again, I would suggest reading both books.  Not enough of us had read Toxic Charity to really add to the discussion, but I think it would be a terrific discussion if the whole group had read both.

Would I recommend Wide Open World?  Well, I am not sure.  It was thought provoking, parts were funny, it was a fast read, and by the end, we knew the characters pretty well.  Would I lead a discussion on it again?  Sure, if I can do it with Ginny Marti.  She had such great ideas on how to spice up the presentation.  She came decked out with a monkey on her shoulder, reminiscent of one of the volunteer stories, and I had purchased monkey cookies for everyone.  It added a little humor to the evening.

So this book is not high on my favorites list, but it did give us something to think about.  And it was a good book for discussion.  If you are looking for a different perspective on volunteering, I think this would be a good one for you.