Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 20

WOW!  This is the 20th installment of In Praise of Book Clubs!  I can hardly believe it!  Today we hear from Laverne at the very fun Redhead Fangirl blog, which you must check out if you like comics or graphic novels.  Here she talks about her Adult Book Discussion group at the Ewing Branch Library, where she is the reference librarian.  

While I was attending library school and working full time, I was drafted to be the book club coordinator in 2005.  We host a once a month adult book discussion, and this group has been one of the most rewarding parts of my very busy reference librarian schedule.   

Our book club reads fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry and short stories.   I love the diversity of the styles we read, and the group is extremely democratic on bringing suggestions to the table.  We only ask that the title be available through our library system, so it promotes our collections and there is no expense for any patron.

We have a group of regular patrons, but always have an influx of new participants.   The group is led by a now retired Corrections Officer, who told me he only knew of one other guard who was a reader in all his years working in corrections.    There are several current and retired teachers who bring witty classroom stories to the table. 

One of our favorite yearly discussions is the “Short Stories for a Short Month”, where every February we read 4 or 5 short stories.   I make copies for the entire group, and then we share our thoughts and feelings.    It has turned us on to T.C. Boyle, Jeffrey Archer,  and more– many times we like a short story enough to want to read more by that author.

The biggest hits of this year are the nonfiction The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, the memoir Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassan.   This fall I’m looking forward to our discussions of the Benjamin Black (John Banville) mystery Christine Falls and the historical fiction novel People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.   I saw her speak at ALA, and thought she was so wise and funny that it even propelled me to read historical fiction- usually my least favorite genre. 

Mostly it has allowed a deeper connection with patrons through years of telling our stories and tidbits in the book group.  Some patrons have gotten ill, or moved, and we miss them.  But I’m always recruiting new readers to tell their stories by reading the stories of others.   

Redhead Fangirl 

(A librarian, redhead  and fangirl’s commentary on comics, graphic novels, and libraries)

Blogger Bio:  Laverne loves graphic novels and writes at the popular Redhead Fangirl blog.  She is a reference librarian in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, cat, and turtle.  You might find her there playing guitar or WiiFit or drinking Irish beers. 

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain?  If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 17

 

In this 17th volume of In Praise of Book Clubs, Tracy from Book Room Reviews tells us about the wonders of a library book club!

I wanted to tell you about the virtues of joining your local library book club. I started less than a year ago and am truly enjoying my experience. I have tried to start book clubs in the past with different friends but we have always found a reason not to. We moved to a new town in Iowa a year ago and one of the first places I always go is the library of course! Needless to say they have a wonderful library here and after a while I started to notice the signs for the book club. The first meeting I went to was for the book The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer and I enjoyed it so much I keep going back. There are lot of wonderful reasons to go to a library book club so I made a list:

1. The book is free! I get to check it out for at least six weeks before the actual meeting too.

2. There is a core group that is always the same but I always get to meet several different people, even a few men come!

3. I never have to clean my house, provide treats and find somewhere for the rest of my family to go! The Library always provides a comfortable meeting room and refreshments.

4. The discussions are always led by our librarian who takes suggestions and the books she picks are always well researched and she provides lots of additional information.

5. We have met several authors in person and over the phone.

The other cool thing about the library book club is we participate in the All Iowa Reads program.

The All Iowa Reads program is a book selected every year to encourage Iowans statewide to read and talk about a single title in the same year. The books are selected by members of the Iowa Center for the Book advisory council. The criteria used to select a book are

1. Be available in paperback, large print and unabridged audio

2 Lend itself to in-depth discussion and raise universal social issues relevant to Iowans

3. Be accessible to adults and high school age youth

4. It is desirable, but not required, that the book:

Have an Iowa or Midwest connection

Is a recent publication that has not been widely read

This year the selected book is Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Past selections are:

2007. Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio by Jeffrey Kluge

2006. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

2005. The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

www.iowacenterforthebook.org

Our library book club summer list is Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Looking For Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Five Quarters of an Orange by Joanne Harris

Blogger Bio:  I am a wife and mom of two lovely boys. I also tutor Special Ed students at the college level. I just started a book review website www.bookroomreviews.com with a companion blog www.bookroomreviews.wordpress.com My passion is reading and sharing books so I invite authors and publishers to contact me since I would love to help you get the word out about your book!

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain? If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

For a chance to win JANEOLOGY by Karen Harrington, click HERE

 

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 11

Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff talks about her love affair with books, and the book club she discovered at the public library 10 years ago, in this 11th edition of In Praise of Book Clubs.

I love books. I love their covers. I love the way they smell. I love the words displayed between their covers. Opening up a good book is like “coming home”. For that reason, I found myself increasingly frustrated that none of my friends were readers.  I’d finish a book and not have anyone to discuss it with. I thought about starting my own club, but having never been in a book club at all, I thought maybe I should just look for one that was already established and then go from there. 

The city I live in has a local magazine that is published monthly.  The calendar section had an entry for a Library Book Group hosted by the public library. I was pregnant with my first child and thought it would be a great way to meet people and support the library at the same time. So I gave it a shot. 

The group consisted of five ladies of various ages and backgrounds. They chose their books three months ahead and the book that we discussed on my first night was Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence. I knew from that very first meeting that I had found what I was looking for. 

Nearly ten years later our group is still going strong. If there is a book that has been made into a movie, we sometimes have special outings so we can discuss both.  Sure, there was one time when I showed up for a viewing of the movie (Lolita) and I was the only one there, but it provided months and months of discussion afterward! We’ve also had holiday meetings of the potluck variety and special brunches to mix it up a bit. I think the social gatherings allow us to discuss all aspects of the book and make it fun at the same time. Our leader does a wonderful job of “keeping it fresh”. 

Through the years we’ve made some changes too. Since we’re hosted by the library, we had a problem with “floaters” who came to one meeting, suggested a book for next time and then never came back again. Don’t you hate that? To remedy that, we moved to a yearly selection process. We have a special book selection meeting in January and we all make a pitch as to what books we want to read for the year. At the end of the evening, we take a vote and the final list is shared with all members and posted for the public. We look forward to this meeting each year, and because you know what you are reading during any given month, you can plan your reading time accordingly. This has proven to be a real time saver for us. 

I am so glad that I attended that first meeting over ten years ago. I discovered a group of people that enjoy reading as much as I do and their recommendations have prompted me to read books that I never would have picked up on my own. If you are looking for a book group and do not know where to start, start with your local library. You never know what you may find!

In case you’re interested, here is what my group selected for 2008:

Jan – Star of the Sea, by Joseph O’Connor

Feb – What is the What, by Dave Eggers

Mar – I, Mona Lisa, by Jeanne Kalogridis

Apr – Banker to the Poor, Muhammad Yunus

May – A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah

Jun – Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

Jul – The Unknown Terrorist, by Richard Flanagan

Aug – Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl

Sep – Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones

Oct – The Meaning of Night: A Confession, by Michael Cox

Nov – Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Dec – The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai

Blogger Bio: Ti lives in Southern California with her husband and two kids. She works full time and is very busy but tries to read whenever she can.  She has been blogging at Book Chatter and Other Stuff since February 2008 and hits the big “Four O” this September. 

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain? If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

For a chance to win Springtime on Mars by Susan Woodring, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.