At BEA Reading Group Guides hosted their 5th Annual Book Discussion Speed Dating event. Although I did not make that session, one of my colleagues, Alissa Williams, Director of the Morton [IL] Public Library District did.
She passed on the link to the titles and the slides which you can find here.
I wanted to share a little bit from my casual conversation with Alissa about how the event went and then I will end with my overall comments about this list.
Alissa loved how the event was run. People sat at round tables in small groups with the ARCs of the books in question there on the table for you to look at. Then, each publisher took turns moving between tables to book talk and present their books to the small group. Alissa said they were all wonderful book talkers [she learned a few tips on just that skill alone], but she also really liked being able to talk to her colleagues, other book discussion leaders, in between publishers about their groups and what they thought of the books.
I asked Alissa who these other people at her table were. That, she told me, was surprising. She assumed, as I would have, that most of the people would be library workers, but no. At her table there were mostly bloggers and someone who runs a book club but doesn't work at a library. While it was great to meet others who focus on book clubs outside of a library, she wished this event could also be at a library conference. She would love the chance to compare the 2 different groups.
This is a great point. Reading Group Guides is one of the most comprehensive resources for library workers who run book clubs, yet they don't come to our conferences to do this program; they go to BEA. So someone out there reading this who can change that, please invite them to Orlando or Chicago in 2017 please.
I also asked Alissa [before I saw the slides] if the titles were only new and forthcoming. She said yes, mostly. A few publishers included some upcoming paperback releases, but overall these are books coming out in Fall and Winter.
Of course if you have ever read this blog you would know how this made me-- not happy.
If you don't know how I feel about the importance of the backlist just click here and scroll down to the indented portion where I quote myself about the importance of the backlist in libraries. Then come back. I'll wait. But really, you should all know this by now.
Interestingly, after Alissa patiently listened to the short version of my well known rant, she noted that the people at her table didn't seem to care if the books were hardcover, paperback, new or old. the book bloggers wanted the newest titles and the other non-library book club leader said her group buys the books and doesn't care about price. They just want new ideas for titles.
That must be nice....
But regardless of affordability, as I have said before (in print and in training sessions) some of the best discussions I have ever been a part of are ones featuring older titles. Not only can you talk about the book itself then, but you can also talk about how it stands up, why it was or was not popular when it first came out, how your reading of it changes over time, etc... Also, I have found there is much more to say when the book is not hot and new. People come up with their own thoughts and opinions and don't just rehash what they read in the media.
Also, these great book discussion books coming later in 2016 and 2017, they will make awesome picks for your group in 2017, 2018, and beyond. So my advice library workers, click here to look at the slides and then save the link to go back to in 2 years. And for finding titles for you book club to use now... use the Reading Group Guides presentations from 2015, 2014 [they don't have the older slides posted.] Those links are where you are going to find GREAT book discussion titles for RIGHT NOW.
My overall assessment of this program. Thanks for the book talks and the information. These are a little bit more under the radar, new titles that I can hand out to lots of patrons come late Summer and Fall, but publishers and Reading Group Guides, please consider coming to ALA to do this program and focus on the backlist. You will sell a lot of older titles to us. Many libraries buy multiple copies to create book club collections these days. Plus, you might be able to jump start interest a mid-list author who has a new book coming soon.
Then everyone wins-- the publishers sell more books, authors get discovered, and most importantly, patrons will have a great discussion.
Thanks again to Alissa Williams for her help with this post.
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