Nonfiction Review: The Art of Gathering

September 27, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★★

Nonfiction Review: The Art of GatheringTitle: The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
Author: Priya Parker
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: This book was both full of helpful, practical advice and an interesting read.

After my experience reading Belong, I was concerned that this book on how to host good gatherings, from professional facilitator Priya Parker, might be too focused on big events. To my surprise, I found that generality was one of this book’s greatest strengths. The first four chapters were the most helpful to me. They first two chapters cover the basic elements of a gathering – purpose, venue, and attendees. The following two chapters were helpful for thinking about details of the events itself – explicit and implicit rules, what will happen at the event, how to host, etc. I finished these sections with some ideas I’m excited about for as simple an event as the next time I host friends for games. They were helpful and practical and really made me think about what I want from a gathering.

The remaining four chapters of the book focused in on very specific moments in and around hosting an event. These are moments, like the beginning of a gathering, that don’t necessarily need as much attention for a small, informal get-together. I got a few ideas from this section, but it did feel more relevant to events that are at least a bit larger or include people who don’t all know each other. Even when not directly relevant, this section was informative and entertaining. Throughout the whole book, the author manages to talk about events that are big or quirky or corporate and draw lessons from them that can be applied to smaller, more personal gatherings. In this second half, the stories kept the book enjoyable. It sometimes read like narrative nonfiction. These individual stories were engaging glimpses of interesting lives. It was also helpful to learn more about the author’s philosophy when hosting events. It’s clear she’s very good at what she does!

I was pleasantly surprised by how much of this book was relevant to even my small gatherings of friends. Even the bits that weren’t directly helpful, were fun to read and felt like they might be helpful in the future. Whether you’re interested in hosting yourself or simply learning about group dynamics, this is a book I’d recommend.

8 Responses to “Nonfiction Review: The Art of Gathering”

  1. Helen Murdoch

    So many people just throw a group together in a room and assume it will work, but I do think there is much more to it than that. And, game night sounds super fun!

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! I’d love to be able to be a good host and I do think that takes some skill.

      I’ve recently ended up living near some friends from undergrad and it’s the best social group my husband and I have had in a long time 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      So true! Everyone in my friend group here is vaccinated and it’s a small group, so we’re pretty comfortable going back to normal.

  2. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I’m glad you gleaned quite a lot of useful information from this, and some that might become useful in the future. At the moment it’s been so long since I hosted any kind of group gathering that I feel quite distant from the whole topic. But maybe reading about it will help get me inspired about the possibilities, when things open up again.
    Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle recently posted…Postcards from Switzerland: MuensterMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Certainly some of the sections did focus on larger group gatherings felt very distant from our current reality! I’m fortunate to be in a county in Maryland where at least 80% of adults are vaccinated and my friend group are all vaccinated, so we can do small indoor gatherings pretty comfortably. Still not sure when I’ll feel up to something like a concert again though! I hope you’re at least able to get together for small gatherings soon too.

    • DoingDewey

      I would definitely recommend this to anyone hosting even small dinner parties. Unlike the earlier book I read, it had advice that felt applicable even on that scale 🙂

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