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Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Discussion: Jazzing Up Your Book Club

I have book club on the brain right now. Today is my monthly BPL book discussion (look for a full report on The Lace Reader later in the week), and at our meeting we will begin the 2 month process of choosing out books for the first half of 2011. In the meantime, a bunch of us on the BPL staff are organizing ourselves for an after hours book club starting in January.

But wait...there's more. I am also giving my popular program for patrons entitled, "Recharge Your Book Club" on the 26th at the La Grange Public Library (click here to register for this free program).

This program has been successful at libraries in the past, and is filled with many tips and tricks to reinvigorate any book club. Trust me, I have been leading the same group for 10 years and we are still going strong.

One of my favorite tips is to pick books that are not brand new. So many book groups want to read "the hot book," in book club, but getting your hands on the hot book is often difficult. This leads to grumpy participants. Getting your hands on the book easily should be one of the group's main goals.

Also, sometimes, it is a back list gem that really energizes your group.  Last year we read a best seller from the 1990s, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it was a huge hit. People who had read it back when it first came out were happy to revisit it, and those who had never read it were glad to have had the chance.  We are doing the same thing with Julia Child's My Life in France in December. However, in general, our group's rule is that the book must be out in paperback, generally insuring that it will be procurable for our patrons.

My favorite resource for new ideas is the Booklist blog, Book Group Buzz. They even have a tag for "Book Club Tips." But if you want more tips from me, you are going to have to come to the program.

So for today's Monday Discussion, what would you suggest to a book group in the doldrums? What idea have worked for groups you have led or been in? And adding alcohol does not count.  Let me know ideas for all age ranges of book groups too. I will give full credit to anyone's ideas that I use in the program next week.

To follow past Monday Discussions click here.


John BPL RA said...

Ha ha! I like your put down of alcohol at the end, Becky. That's hilarious. I'm not an expert but I used to host poetry readings in the woods in Riverside and they were NEVER boring! Here's what I would suggest:

1. Invite cool people. Book clubs are really more clubs than they are books. Interesting people who are fun to be around will do wonders for any book club.

2. Exotic/bizarre/illegal location. I once saw a prof in a classroom read an Emerson poem and it was boooooring. Then I saw a guy read that exact same poem deep in the woods while standing on an overturned boulder next to a bonfire with a river raging behind him AND IT WAS EPIC. Location! Location! Location!

3. Ditch books that suck. Lame crap is no fun, I don't care how well it is selling. GOOD BOOKS ONLY!

There you go. That's everything you need Becky. Follow that and you'll always have fun. I promise. You're welcome.

Kathy, BPL RA said...

I totally agree that choosing different books (ie. backlist or something a little off the wall) can really re-energize your book club. Especially if you try a new genre. Another suggestion is to try and change the dynamic. We all have people in our book clubs who talk a lot and those that only contribute a little. An easy way to mix it up is to get a non-talker to start off the discussion. Ask a very open ended question, so they do not feel put on the spot, and let them answer first. I find that I am always surprised at the depth and insight of the "non-talkers." For my group this often times brings up a topic that would never have been touched on. Plus the positive feedback might make them more likely to contribute more in the future.

Becky said...

Kathy I love your idea of getting the non-talkers to start off the discussion. I usually don't get them going until further in. And you are so right. Often times they bring up the most insightful things.