Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Wisdom of a Book Club...

Or eleven heads make good decisions. That is how it seems in my book club. I have been in this book club for several years now and I am always pleased with the group of books we select each year to read. This is mostly because I get exposed to a wide variety of books that I wouldn't necessarily pick on my own (or finish if I didn't have to discuss them). Upon looking at the last few years of what we have been reading, I found that my perceptions were right about our selections and variety. Every year our list includes memoirs/biographies, nonfiction, and fiction including mysteries, science fiction, and classics.

You may wonder how we come up with our reading lists. It's really quite simple. Once a year, every member nominates two books and then we vote on them. The only restrictions are based on availability and we sometimes bend those rules. That is how we get our diverse and well rounded lists. There is no plan, just the wisdom of the crowd.

The wisdom of the crowd has actually been explored extensively in a book that Wally introduced to me several years ago, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. Basically, the book examines the premise that a group can make better decisions than an individual even if that individual is an expert. A prime example of that (although not mentioned in the book) is my book club.

Maybe I'll nominate The Wisdom of Crowds for next year's reading list. We'll see if the wisdom of my group thinks that it is a good idea to read The Wisdom of Crowds.