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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Club Planning

At the BPL, we are entering crunch time for finalizing the book our discussion groups will be reding for the last 6 months of the year.

The first round of balloting has been turned in, and on Monday, I will be tallying the results to create the final ballot for voting at the May meetings.  Although Kathy and I consider our participants opinions very seriously, we still reserve the right to insert our professional knowledge.  I call it a "dictatorial democracy."  We let them vote, but ultimately, we have the final say. This means, I am still actively scanning the resources for titles to put on the final ballot. 

That got me to thinking that there may be others out there planning for their book groups too.  So, here are some of the resources I am using right now:
  • Over on Citizen Reader, Sarah posted this great list of memoirs and biographies for book groups.  We have had good luck with some of the titles she suggests, so I may try to put a few on the final ballot.  Specifically, her point of reading Three Cups of Tea and discussing the current controversy is a great point.
  • I frequently pull up the books listed under the "Good Books for Book Clubs" tab over on Book Group Buzz.  What I like about the suggestions here is that many of them come from an "outside the box" perspective.  These are not the cookie cutter suggestions you see everywhere else.
  • I know it sounds simple and obvious, but one of mys best resources for book club choices is simply scanning the NY Times Trade Fiction and Trade Nonfiction Best Seller lists.  These are the books other people are reading and discussing.  I usually include at least 2 titles from these lists on the final ballot
  • Reading Group Guides has the most comprehensive book discussion coverage, but many of their suggested title lists are too mainstream for my group.  We really enjoy mixing the books everyone is reading with hidden gems.  However, they do have two lists I return to frequently for inspiration.  First is the "Enduring Favorites" which go back quite a few years and list the backlist titles that have remained popular with book clubs year after year.  My groups has discussed many of these over the years, so I know from experience that this is a useful list.  Second, they have a link to Indie Bound's reading group suggestions.  Although the most recent list is from 2008, what I like most about the suggestions is that they include a few broken out by topic.
  • I like Book Movement as a general book club resources for many reasons, but when I am looking to create our group's ballot, I like to consult their "Top Rated" book's list.  Again, these tend to be some of the off-the beaten path suggestions that are not listed in the other resources.  Also, since they are suggested by actually book club members who have participated in a discussion of the book they are recommending, I know it worked for someone.
  • Finally, I have begun using Lit Lovers quite a bit recently. Their lists and reviews are a great idea generating resource.
Well, that is what I am using.  You are welcome to use my "book discussion books" tag to see what books we have discussed at the BPL.  It is not an insignificant list.  I have almost 4 years worth of titles with discussion information posted here.  The posts will also give you a sense of how the discussion went, and, if I had to create questions for the discussion, I also post those for your use.

I will post our final ballot for those of you interested in seeing what makes the list and how we present it, and of course, when the July-December schedule comes out I will link you to the BPL's Book Discussion Group page.

But in the meantime, pass on any suggested titles to me by using the comments.

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