Book Group Best Bets: Fiction for Discussion

Anyone who has belonged to a book club knows that there’s one meeting more difficult and stressful than all the rest – the meeting when members discuss which books to read and discuss for the rest of the year. How do you know what’s good? How can you be sure it will be discussable and sustain conversation? Fret not, our librarians have got you covered with a list of recently published, character-driven books rich with language. We think you’ll find a lot to discuss in these titles.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
The tangled destinies and decisions of three teens growing up in a tightknit African-American community in Southern California. Continue reading “Book Group Best Bets: Fiction for Discussion”

Confessions of a book club dropout

"Leave me alone: I'm reading."

I still haven’t found a book club. Or rather, I haven’t found one I can stick with. I’m pretty sure it’s me; maybe I’m just a solitary reader by nature, or have commitment issues. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out, seeing all those great book groups our library hosts all over the city, including a bunch right here at my branch (just search “book group” in our events calendar and you’ll see). And our book groups are really cool because you’ll find people gathering to have real discussions who might never meet outside of a public library. We also have this group called “Let’s Talk About Books,” where readers get together over lunch and share what they’ve enjoyed reading. I’ve been a few times: it’s a blast. I just haven’t managed to cultivate the habit, though I do love to share titles with my colleagues while we’re recording our Bibliocafé podcasts. #ExhibitionistLibrarian?

Maybe social pressure will be the key; after all, Bike-to-Work month finally got me on my bicycle, logging miles for one of our two library teams. Similarly, I couldn’t help but want to participate in our recent discussion with Chris Cleave via Facebook as part of our Continue reading “Confessions of a book club dropout”

Book clubs for kids

The Kids book club book coverEver since I started the Kids’ Book Club at the Northeast Branch, I’ve been getting requests from families about offering more book clubs for different ages, schedules and so on. I often tell families that they can help their kids start their own book club. “Oh no, that would be so much work!” It sounds intimidating at first: the logistics of getting a club together, deciding where to meet, how to get the books and so on. However, starting your own kids’ book club can be easy and fun if you have the right tools.

The Seattle Public Library has several books for readers who want to put together a book club. These are two of my favorites that focus on book clubs for kids:

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp’s The Kids’ Book Club Book’s first pages are indispensible because they help readers determine what kind of book Continue reading “Book clubs for kids”

Book Groups for Busy People

Did you get a chance to make the lastest meeting of the Central library’s book discussion group “Let’s Talk About Books”?  I missed it, and it’s too bad, because LTAB is a wonderful opportunity for book lovers like us to share our thoughts on whatever we’re reading now and get ideas for what to read next.  Plus there’s no advance preparation: just bring what you’re reading and come ready to share. Brilliant!

image of Rules of Book Club shirt courtesy of Bob Boyetche via FlickrI’d like to try the book group at my local branch, or some of the fantastic options at other branches.  They’re offered  in many languages, for all age groups, on various topics, and even for the visually impaired.  Check them out!  (Select “Book Group” from the Event Type drop-down menu.)  I’m definitely going to one of them – right after I finish class, work, errands, and making sure my husband sees me often enough that he doesn’t think I’ve left him and moved to Uzbekistan. 

Okay, so despite our best intentions to make it to that book group, sometimes life just gets in the way.  But what if you could join one without having to make a major time commitment or even leave your home?  You can – by joining an online book group.  They’re usually message boards or email discussions, so you can post and read comments at your own convenience. 

You can also find one that fits your style, no matter what your age and interests may be.  Book Clubs Resource  is a great place for finding online book groups of all shapes and sizes.  The section “Special Interest Book Clubs” lists groups designed for African-Americans, mystery lovers, teens and children, and women, among others.  Booktalk  is a nice classic book group with an attractive interface. 

Of course, with the web becoming ever-more interactive, you might be inspired to start your own online book group.  You can get lots of great tips on how to set up and run your own online book group here, or on the library’s website

So there go all our excuses about being too busy or not being able to get away from the house.  If you have time to read a book, you have time to join an online book group.  Of course, we’d still love to see you at the library’s in-person discussions!

Have you participated in an online book group, or found one that looks particularly interesting?  Tell us about your experience!

A local book club shares!

Woman and books courtesy of auro via FlickrI am a librarian. Do I read 24 hours/7 days a week? No. Do I read during my spare time? Sometimes a lot, usually not too much. Four years ago, a friend invited me to join a ladies’ book group in Lake Forest Park. Some of these ladies read tons more than me! This past year, the group read two of my suggestions – The House by the Sea by May Sarton and A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel.

At this month’s gathering, we had invited a staff member from Third Place Books to join us and share some book club suggestions for next year. I shared ahead of time that I was interested in  biography type books of impressive women, not necessarily famous ones. This informative, witty bookseller shared about 30 titles and authors with us.  We polled ourselves afterwards on which books we wanted to read in the next year. Here’s a sampling of what had the highest votes for next year’s calendar.

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweetPicture Seattle during World War II. Two fifth graders – Henry who is Chinese and Keiko who is Japanese – are best friends and love eventually grows. Henry vows to wait for her when she and her family are sent to a Japanese American internment camp in Idaho. Forty years later, events happen that reignite that love. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is Jamie Ford’s first novel.

A ranch in Montana, a one-room school, and farm life. Judy Blunt moves on, after marriage and children, to write great poetry. How does a woman survive in a man’s world? This narrative biography by Blunt is called Breaking Clean.

A couple visits a Nigerian beach resort in an effort to help save their marriage. Soldiers come out of the jungle with machetes and Andrew and Sarah are forced to determine the fate of two African girls. Two years later in London, one of the girls, now a refugee, reconnects with Sarah. What kind of friendship was there, is there still? Little Bee by Chris Cleave is being called the next Kite Runner for book clubs.

The Seattle Public Library’s web site has several resources for anyone trying to help their book club, like finding author bios and book discussion guides. On the Reader’s Corner, there are links to Book Group How-To’s and Recommended Books for Discussion. There are some great resources on the Web as well, such as Reading Group Guides, Reading Group Choices, and the Book Group Buzz blog.

What’s your book club planning to read next year? How does the club select its titles? Please share!