Twenty years ago, David Dunbar and David Glaze recognized a common interest in classic literature, whether it be Dickens, Hugo or Shakespeare. Dunbar, an attorney, created a book club in hopes of igniting and sharing his passion with others. He decided to call it the Order of Eliot.
“I thought anyone who considered themselves well- educated needed to do much more reading than any of us likely did through our college years. I also felt that being a part of a group would force us all to participate actively in the reading and discussion process. So I contacted a number of good friends who I thought would be like-minded in this reading goal and asked if they would be interested,” Dunbar stated.
“The name Order of Eliot comes from Charles Eliot, who was the president of Harvard from 1869 to 1909. Eliot once stated that a liberal education could be obtained by spending fifteen minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf,” Glaze, a financial consultant, said.
Dunbar and Glaze, along with Roy Liddell, have read over a hundred books in the book club since its creation twenty years ago. Books written by Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens and Hugo are just some of the classics read by the club, which consists of twelve members to date. Along with these classics are some twentieth century authors such as William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.
Roy Liddell, also an attorney, was childhood friends with Dunbar growing up in the same neighborhood. “He invited me to join shortly after the group was founded.
The group has served an inspirational purpose to me, as we have read selections I never would have chosen to read if not selected by the Order. My interest in several authors has been expanded; there have been books that we have read that were far more interesting than I expected. However, the most rewarding thing is being alongside people whose knowledge and love of literature is eminent. I truly respect and enjoy learning with them, remarked Liddell.
The group of twelve individuals also includes Bryan Barksdale, Hines Bostwick, John Garrard, Jay Jacobus, Brooks Mosley, George Norfleet, David Segrest, Bill Sneed and Lynn Wentworth. Over the years, a multitude of diverse individuals have joined the club, which has further fueled a wide range of interests.
“We have a variety of different ages, experiences and backgrounds in the club. Since the members are responsible for the presentation of each selection and moderation of discussions, the people in The Order make learning enjoyable and bring a unique perspective,” states Liddell.
From the beginning, Dunbar set guidelines for the group that are still enforced today.
“Each member chooses a book, hosts a meeting, provides a meal and some libations, gives a brief biography of the author and leads the discussion,” Glaze stated.
What once was a hobby has turned into a passion for the Order of Eliot book club. So which books are their favorites?
David Dunbar: Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
David Glaze: Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Roy Liddell: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Photo by Anna Goodson