Category Archives: Book Clubs

Running Walking Book Clubs

When the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group minutes went out to the list-serv last week, I was excited to learn that Richmond Public Library will be leading a Walking Book Club this summer in partnership with the City of Richmond Parks. Participants will meet at a different park each month, June through August, to walk and talk as they discuss the book.

This idea sprang up betwprasanna-kumar-218699een me and a colleague in a discussion last spring–we didn’t get around to organizing it for last summer, but we were intrigued after we read about the program idea in a Programming Librarian post about the Roaming Readers Walking Club. We brainstormed partnering with the recreation centre attached to our library. What a great way to combine physical activity, literacy, love of reading, and community!

As a runner, my mind started wandering to how we could create a running book club–would people still be interested in discussing books as they ran, potentially out-of-breath, down the streets of Guildford in Surrey? Although we haven’t pursued either a walking or a running book club yet, the opportunity exists and it would complement the children’s BC Summer Reading Club theme: “Walk on the Wild Side.”

I’m curious to hear from you–have any of your libraries hosted walking book clubs or hosted other book clubs with a movement or physical activity component? As the first cherry blossoms finally start to appear in what has been a long west-coast winter, it feels like the perfect time to think about summer reading and outdoor book clubs!

-Meghan Savage, Information Services Librarian, Surrey Libraries

Our Shared Shelf – Emma Watson’s Feminist Book Club

I’m pretty sure you and I relate to Emma Watson’s most remarkable fiction character.

Hermione Granger, the bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The 26-year-old actress was appointed as the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, when she helped launch the campaign HeForShe, advocating for gender equality.

At the beginning of 2016, Watson launched a worldwide book club on GoodReads called Our Shared Shelf. The group has over 140 thousand members across the globe! With the help of a handful of volunteer coordinators, the group engages in frequent and lively discussions about feminism, human rights, cultural differences, etc.

Watson picks a book every month (though she created a poll for members to choose the book for the summer – July and August). She managed to interview a few of the authors, soliciting questions from the members. Some of the interviews are available in videos. Volunteers have started to translate the transcripts of interviews so members that don’t read English can read the interviews.

Here’s what the group has read so far:

Januarylife-road

February color-purple
“I am trying to choose works that cover as much ground as possible and are diverse… I’ve heard amazing things about this book from a person that I trust… The musical is currently on Broadway (starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks) and a film was made of the book in 1985 by Steven Spielberg. It was Oprah Winfrey’s film debut and introduced Whoopi Goldberg (I love both of these women). I’m excited to read it and maybe do some watching too.”

March

alll-about-love

“This month’s book choice is in honor of bell hooks who interviewed me for Paper magazine this month. Maya Angelou said of bell’s work, “Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, she has so much to give us’. I love hearing from bell, I am pretty excited to start “All About Love: New Visions”. It’s been on my list for a while.”

Aprilhow-to-be-a-woman

“I read it on a plane from London to New York and I laughed out loud and cried so much I think the whole of my cabin, airline staff included, thought I was losing my mind.”

Mayargonauts

“The story is about the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. It’s about their romance, the birth of their son, the death of Harry’s mother and their changing bodies, as Maggie becomes pregnant and Harry undergoes surgery, but it’s also about inclusion and the powers and shortfalls of language.”

Junepersepolis

“As Iran enters another important period of change, with relations re-opening with much of the world, I think this is a particularly good time to pick up Persepolis. Satrapi’s deceptively simple, almost whimsical drawings belie the seriousness and rich complexity of her story–but it’s also very funny too.”

July/August hunger-modern-girl

September/Octoberhalf-sky

“Half the Sky depicts, in eye-opening detail, the various cultures and customs that suppress women and gives a voice to those individuals who need to be heard the most. Traversing through Africa and Asia, Kristof and WuDunn introduce us to some incredibly strong women and describe their stories of suffering and survival.”

Book Movement and organizing your book club

logoI was perusing the Adult Reading Round Table website, “a group dedicated to developing readers’ advisory skills and promoting reading for pleasure through public libraries in the Chicago area,” which I learned about in a webinar a few months ago. While reading about their leadership recommendations for book club leaders, I discovered a link to the website Book Movement. This website is a resource for book club groups–covering 35,000 book clubs across the United States and what books they recommend and why. In addition to learning about book club options and receiving weekly book club picks, you can track your club’s RSVPs and send out automatic reminders and reading guides via automatic emails. Although I have not joined this resource yet (more emails!?), I am following them on Facebook and would be curious to hear from anyone who participates in their services. Have you used www.bookmovement.com?

–Meghan S, Surrey Libraries

Book Club for Masochists

book club for masochistsMany members of the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group are part of the Book Club for Masochists, a group they started while attending SLAIS to “become […] better librarians by reading books [they] hate!”

The premise is a good one for pushing you out of your comfort zone: each month they select a genre and members read a couple of books from that genre that they will share with the group.

They’ve got quite a few genres under their belt now including:

Space Opera
Aboriginal/Indigenous/First Nations
Christmas/Holiday
Cozy Mysteries
Books in Translation
Religion (non-fiction)
Psychological Thrillers
Technology (non-fiction)
Gothic Literature
Historical Romance

Read about their feedback on books—what they recommend for a particular genre and what they advise avoiding. This is a great resource for encouraging you to read something new or for helping you find a book for a patron in a genre with which you’re unfamiliar. Be sure to tune into their very first podcast, published March 17 2016 on the genre of Historical Romance: http://bookclub4m.tumblr.com/

Has anyone participated in a similar-themed book club?

-Meghan S, Surrey Libraries

 

Booksmacking and the Library Book Club

Does your library book club have a hard time keeping its members? Is the reading too predictable by the end of the season? Do you need a way to inject variety and freshen up your book club?

How about considering alternating the assigned reading with a Booksmack?

At the Greater Victoria Public Library we have had great success and retention of our members at our Oak Bay Branch Book Club by alternating a month where members all participate in a Booksmack with a month of the traditional book club format (i.e. all members reading and discussing the same title). With a Booksmack, each member of the club is required to select a title, give a verbal critique of it and then answer questions from the group. Booksmacks can be as simple as free reading for that month.

You could also choose to assign a genre or theme to each Booksmack and thereby showcase your library collection to your readers. We experimented with this by assigning Nonfiction, Autobiography and Graphic Novel themes to our Booksmack months. Graphic Novels received the most pushback but produced the best meeting of the year.

Booksmacks also generated patron-driven Readers’ Advisory lists, allowed for expression of taste, reduced the onerous “I have to read it for my book club and I don’t like it” syndrome and took the pressure off the collection to supply enough titles every month, particularly if your club is a Nonfiction or genre club like Mysteries and there may not be enough copies system-wide for all members to read the same book.

By the end of the year the assigned fiction reading was, by all accounts, boring, while the Booksmack was loved. The retention for the next year was 75% and the alumni promised to come up with better titles for the assigned reading.

Alternating the monthly format in this way has kept the best of both worlds: the joy of traditional book discussion with the full expression of personal reading, along with an audience with whom to share it. This year with the injection of 25% new members, the genres we are considering  for our Booksmack months are Science Fiction, Children and Teens, and Nonfiction (specifically the 300’s this time around).

If you’re tired of doing the same-old, you might want to consider the Booksmack as a fun way to put a new spin on your library book club format.

Sharon Young is a Library Assistant at the Greater Victoria Public Library

The Book to Art Club from The Library as Incubator Project

logoI had the opportunity to attend the American Library Association Conference in sunny Las Vegas last week and was able to attend a number of sessions related to Readers’ Advsiory, programming, and marketing.

I attended a session called “Out-of-the-Box Book Clubs to Banish the Boring” and was intrigued to learn about The Library as Incubator Project, a project spearheaded by former UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies students Erinn Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, and Christina Jones. “The mission of the Library as Incubator Project is to promote and facilitate creative collaboration between libraries and artists of all types, and to advocate for libraries as incubators of the arts.” They even have a book out: The Artist’s Library: A Field Guide.

One of the programs under the Library as Incubator Project that they discussed is The Book to Art Club in which people meet to discuss a book and work on an art project inspired by the book. The idea to to find hands-on, creative ways to engage with literature in which the process of making the art is more important than the final product.

At Madison Public Library in Wisconsin,  Laura Damon-Moore leads her Book to Art Club on a Sunday afternoon for 2 hours. She asks participants to read the book ahead of time and to bring the art supplies they need to work on the art as they discuss the book. She also provides a few art supplies.

One of the books discussed was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Art projects for this dicussion included watercolour painting, embroidery, pressed flowers, paper flowers, and flower dictionaries.

Follow Book to Art:

Have you tried something similar at your library?

 

Changes and Ceremonies: RA and Alice Munro

It's all going according to plan...

It’s all going according to plan…

Let’s take a break to discuss a challenge too many of our libraries face — we have run out of copies of books by Alice Munro. Of course, readers eager to experience Canada’s champion writer can always read samples of her short stories online, but that’s not enough for many readers.

Readers’ Advisory for Alice Munro is difficult, and I have a confession: I’m not entirely sure I’ve read a short story of Alice Munro’s unless you count an extract during my English 12 Provincial – which I think is only fair that we do, but I digress. I’ve been playing a grand game of catch-up here, and I’m happy to I share what I’ve found.

Let’s begin with what I knew of Alice Munro as a Canadian who has (probably) not read Alice Munro: She wrote critically acclaimed short stories set in a small town in the… Maritimes? Her stories were mostly about the internal lives of girls and women living in these modest surroundings. The plots of her short stories were more character-driven than action driven, and for some reason I was certain that one of her stories featured a woman who was burnt to death by a lantern.

I was wrong about the Maritimes (Huron County, Ontario is Alice Munro’s jam) but otherwise the bare facts are mostly right. However, the more I’ve read, the more I realized that I had a very shallow understanding of her work. There are many articles that reflect how deeply her readers are impacted by her writing. This article from the Toronto Star is an excellent example, as is this piece from Book Riot. Read-alikes seem almost like a mechanical response to works so particular and personal. And if I recommend Margaret Atwood, how badly will the patron give me the fish-eye?

As individual as Munro’s work is, a list of similar writers can be a useful starting point. Writers recommended by Novelist include Edith Pearlman and Elizabeth Hay. There are also several other recommendation lists to be found online, such as the one on Vancouver Public Library‘s Reader’s Cafe

Non-Fiction is also an option. Halifax Public Library’s Readers’ Advisory Blog has a brief post that discusses supplementary materials for Munro’s works, including biographies and critical essays. One might also consider non-fiction titles and/or memoirs that cover similar settings or issues as Munro’s.

I’ve found in my grand game of catch-up several interesting articles that examine what Munro’s win means for different areas in lit. The Millions has published a Beginners Guide to Canadian Lit and The Globe and Mail took the opportunity to celebrate the short story.

For readers intrigued by Munro more for her critical acclaim than for her style, we can point out Lynn Coady, whose short story collection of Hellgoing has recently won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. For readers looking for other Canadians who won international awards, we could also point to titles like Ondaatje‘s The English Patient, Martel‘s Life of Pi, Atwood‘s Blind Assassin, Shield‘s Larry’s Party, or Michael‘s Fugitive Pieces.

Libraries can also consider programs to bolster Munro-Mania. For instance, the Guildford Branch of Surrey Libraries is featuring a drop-in book club on Alice Munro’s Dear Life.

How would you approach a readers’ advisory interview with a reader new to Alice Munro?