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Book Clubs: Bringing Readers Together

Sean's picture

Do you absolutely love to read books? Are you always looking to talk to people about what you read? If you said yes to either of those questions, then you should consider joining or even starting your own book club! A book club is a group of people that meet regularly to discuss books they have all read. Generally book clubs meet monthly, and each month a new title is selected. Then everyone reads the same title and gets together to discuss it. Book clubs are great because you get to meet all kinds of fun, interesting people and you get to read a wide variety of books. Often times you end up reading titles that you otherwise never would have chosen to read yourself. It’s a great way to try new genres and expand your reading tastes.

 

Joining a Book Club

If you think you would be interested in joining a book club, we have a couple of different ones here at the Dundee Library!

Dundee Library Book Club logo

 

First, led by yours truly, the Dundee Library Book Club meets on the last Wednesday of each month. There are 2 different sessions, 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm, and both sessions read the same title each month so you just have to pick which time works best for you. We meet upstairs on the main level in Corner 68, the classroom by the public computer area, and light refreshments are served. Copies of each month’s book are available at the information desk, in large print and in regular print. We don’t focus on any one genre; we read all different kinds of books. We always welcome new people and there is no need to register, just drop on by to either session! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 224-699-5837 or splagge@frvpld.info.

 

 

 

Next, we will be starting a new book club at the Adult Activities Center at the Dundee Township Park District’s Rakow Center building (665 Barrington Avenue in Carpentersville). The Adult Activities Center Book Club will meet the first Wednesday of each month from 10:00-11:30am at the Adult Activities Center. The first meeting will be on January 2, 2019 and we will be reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Cari at 224-699-9204 or cpoweziak@frvpld.info.

We also have a Spanish book club, Grupo de Lectores del Valle de Fox, that meets on the last Thursday of each month from 7:00-8:30pm here at the Dundee Library. They also meet in Corner 68 on the main level. Registration is not required; you can just drop in any time. If you have any questions about Grupo, feel free to contact Jasmin at 224-699-5836 or jmunoz@frvpld.info.

 

Starting a Book Club

Some people start their own book club, and that’s fantastic! Anyone can start their own book club if they really wanted to. Below are some tips and tricks for starting a book club, as well as information about how the library can help you too!

  • Make a plan:

This helps keeps yourself organized and creates a structure for your book club. Making a plan includes deciding:

  • When: how often do you want to meet, what time of day, how many sessions, and what length of time will your session(s) be
  • Where: do you want to meet at a set location (if yes, then what location) or rotate and have people take turns hosting
  • Structure: are you going to always lead or have people take turns leading, does the leader pick the book or does the group decide together, are you going to focus on a specific genre or have it more open and do a variety of genres, are you going to serve refreshments or not, and are you going to provide all of the copies of the books or is each member responsible for getting their own copy

 

  • Get the word out:

Once you have your plan, start telling people. See what kind of interest you get to start seeing how big your group could be, and make adjustments to your plan if needed. Start off by telling your friends and family, if you want them to participate. Post on your local community’s Facebook page or go to places in your community that have bulletin boards for posting flyers (like the library!). If you’re going to post flyers on bulletin boards, please make sure you get permission first! Talk to staff at your local library because the library will probably help you out in more ways than just putting your flyer up. They can help promote your book club through word of mouth and can make recommendations for titles and help you get multiple copies of the books you choose.

 

  •  Picking books:

Speaking of book recommendations and getting copies of books, let’s talk about how you can pick which books you want to discuss. Getting recommendations from the librarians at your library is always an option, as mentioned previously. Book reviews are very helpful as well, whether they’re from newspapers (i.e. New York Times) or websites (i.e. Goodreads). Some of the professional journals librarians use for book reviews have some reviews freely available on their websites as well (i.e. Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly). See what libraries are doing for their book clubs, whether it’s your local library or looking at other libraries’ websites. Listen to radio shows that do book reviews (i.e. NPR) or podcasts about books (i.e. World Book Club, Literary Disco, So Many Damn Books, and Fully Booked). Book publishers will sometimes have information and book recommendations as well (i.e. Penguin Random House).

 

  • Discussion Questions

Once you’ve picked a book, you’ll need to put together some discussion questions about that book. I recommend having at least 10 discussion questions. You don’t necessarily have to use all (or even any) of those questions, but it helps to provide some talking points for the participants to think about as they’re reading the book. You can create your own discussion questions, or you can find questions online by looking at authors’ websites and publishers’ websites. There are also two websites made for book lovers and book clubs that have discussion questions, recommendations, and more that I recommend: ReadingGroupGuides and LitLovers. Also, if the discussion starts to get a little off topic, you can ask one of the discussion questions to reel everyone back in and get things back on track. Once your book club starts to meet regularly you’ll get a feel for the group and how to effectively lead the group.

 

  • Leading the discussion:

Leading the book discussion can be tough, but as I said once you start meeting regularly you’ll get a feel of how the group is and how to lead them effectively. If the discussion starts to get off topic, reel everyone in quickly before the conversation strays too far away from the book. Ask one of the discussion questions or mention a specific part of the book or a quote from the book that you really liked. Don’t be afraid to speak up and talk over everyone to get things back on track. If someone is doing all of the talking and “hogging” the time, don’t be afraid to cut them off to try and give other people a chance to talk. Say something like “Those are some really good points and I appreciate your enthusiasm, I’d like to hear other people’s perspectives too” to be forward but polite. Speaking to that person one-on-one after the discussion is another option as well. Sometimes you will have people who don’t speak much, if at all. Personally, I’m not a fan of straight up asking that person what they thought about the book because I don’t want them to feel like I’m calling them out. I usually will say something like “We’ve heard some great points and perspectives, does anybody else have anything they would like to add? We love hearing everyone’s thoughts and perspectives.” This way I am encouraging everyone to share with the group without making any one person feel like I’m calling them out. If someone starts to steer the conversation to something sensitive or inappropriate and people are getting uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to tell them “I’m sorry but this is not something we’re going to discuss here” or “let’s not get in to this particular topic, let’s get back to the book please.”

 

Book clubs are a lot of fun and are great way to meet new people and read all different kinds of books. Whether you are interested in joining one of our book clubs or starting your own, we are always happy to have you here and help you out. If you have any questions about book clubs or even if you’re looking for ideas for books to read, feel free to call us at 847-428-3661, stop by the Information Desk, or email us at libraryhelp@frvpld.info.