2 Mar 20200 Comments
“This is really one of the most fun things I do here,” Adult Services Librarian Mary Robison said of her Books Before Bedtime Book Club at Yonkers Riverfront Library (ypl.org). “It’s a collegial environment with men, women, retirees and native Spanish speakers. One member is a professor at College of Mount Saint Vincent who attends when he can, as the group often meets when he’s teaching.”
While time of day and nature of material determine attendance, Robison faithfully emails members each month’s selection. “It’s very diverse as we read such a variety of titles.” Theme months explore a genre or an author that might include James Bond, Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Wizard of Oz, popular fiction, or short stories. On occasion, members enjoy listening to guest speakers and leading the discussion on certain topics.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Spanish Book Group and Books Before Bedtime read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and some bilingual patrons attended both meetings. “It was interesting to hear how the different groups approached the book,” Robison said.
Participants of the Up All Night Book Club at John C. Hart Memorial Library (yorktownlibrary.org) in Shrub Oak enjoy an interactive experience; group facilitator and library patron Anjili Jani, who also helped start the group, brings in a baked item related to each book’s theme – or anything baked by one of its characters.
“For our first read – The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn – I brought in mini bottles of wine and cookies for everyone since the main character was a wino,” Jani said. “It was a fun kick-off meeting” for a club “that intends to keep you up trying to unravel a plot or thinking of a character long after you finished that last page.”
One member is a retired nurse “with a sweet and inquisitive spirit who breaks down each of the interesting characters and is able to tie things in to current events,” she said. Another loves to laugh and shares her shock with the plot twists or the diabolical characters revealed in the books. Jani’s mother and grandmother also participate, “which is also fun!”
White Plains Library Director Brian Kenney shares his passion for mysteries at Book ‘Em (whiteplainslibrary.org), which started with six or seven members and has tripled during its four years. “Mysteries are a big circulating genre,” Kenney said. So he chooses titles for their diversity, looks for stories set in other countries and books with unexpected characters.
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“We’ll read a courtroom book, a thriller, a cozy mystery (gentle read). Everyone goes in there with their own version of the book (they read), and talking to others in the group expands their minds and world views,” he noted. “It also has a social element of bringing people together and sharing experiences.”
Though Kenney comes with a prepared list of questions to get members talking, “The best groups are those where the conversation comes alive and I put the questions away.”
“We have a regular book club on contemporary fiction and some classics, a mystery book club that meets during lunch – Lunch Can Be Murder – and a business book club run by a volunteer,” Tarrytown’s Warner Library (warnerlibrary.org) Director Maureen Petry explained. About 15 people attended this past December’s meeting to talk about The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. Russell Baker’s Growing Up is on the agenda for March.
Members include a retired obstetrician and a German exchange student; they even have a musician who specialized in medieval instruments, Petry said. “He brought a lute to play for us when we were reading How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, a book whose main character played the instrument for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.”
People join for company and camaraderie and to meet new people in the community, Petry said. “Most importantly, everyone is respectful and considerate of each other’s ideas and opinions.”
These library-based book groups offer unexpected surprises and bring together community members whose paths might not otherwise cross. So, if you love to read and have no one with whom to share your thoughts, then why not seek out a local library book club? Find yours at www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/libs/publibs/3westh.htm