By February 21, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Confessions of a Groupie

I’m a groupie.

 No, not that kind…I’m a book groupie. Right now, I’ve got the compulsion under control. I’m only doing three groups. If I’m sneaky and use some books in multiple groups, I can usually manage my schedule of groupie reading, review reading, and even the occasional (gasp!) non-required book that I pick out all for myself. It’s a walk on the reading tightrope, but I get by, and still hold down my day job at Williamsburg Regional Library. But every time I hear about a new group, I have to confess, my first thought is “I bet I could fit that in.” Maybe I could read another book a month in the bathroom, or prop it up in the grocery store basket. Maybe I could sneak an audiobook into my other book groups, and turn it on when the conversation flags.

 Why three groups? Well I lead one, a thematic group on my first genre loves: fantasy and science fiction. We pick a theme each month, distribute a list of books that might fit the theme, and then everyone reads and reports on the book of their choice. I love exploring the themes and having a good excuse for reading plenty of my favorite genres.

The second is a staff group. We read on a mix of themes and selected books. This group intentionally samples from all the genres to help boost our readers’ advisory skills. I like the variety and the chance to mix with my co-workers from all over the library. With all the desk hours librarians work, we get surprisingly few chances to talk books, enjoy each other’s company, or get to know people in other divisions.

My third book group is with some older friends. We read classics, literary fiction, and nonfiction. I love their perspective, it’s one I don’t otherwise get. I love being required to read great books that I would otherwise probably never pick up anymore. We eat too much excellent food, and after we talk about the shared book, we report back on what else we’ve been reading that month. How cool is that? And it doesn’t hurt that at 40, I get to go somewhere once a month and get treated like a youngster.

So you can see why I’m a groupie. I get something different from every experience. And there–on top of the joy of confessing–is my point: you can get many different benefits from your book groups. Find the group or groups that give you what you need as a reader and as a person. Design the groups that you lead to meet the needs of your members. I’ll give ideas in a future post about methods for achieving this. If you only get part of your reading and personal needs fulfilled by your current group, consider joining or founding a new group that cater to other aspects of your reading life. Then you can be a groupie too. If you love books as much as I do, you won’t regret it.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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