Odds and Ends

WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN READING?  I tried something new at my book group meeting last week — scheduling 10 minutes at the end of the session to talk about other books the participants have read recently.  This isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, as book group members often refer to other books during the discussions, but I thought it would be interesting to see how they would react if I encouraged them to comment on other titles, as a way of making their colleagues aware of some new reading possibilities.  It turned out to be a great idea, as several participants eagerly shared information about books they thought their compatriots would enjoy.  One reader had discovered the novels of Pat Barker, who writes compellingly about World War I.  She’d picked up Barker’s latest work, Life Class, and that led her to previous Barker volumes,, such as Regeneration and The Eye in the Door.  Another person in the group has been reading the “Nursery Crime” tales of Jasper Fforde, fanciful mysteries featuring detective inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant, Mary Mary.  She recommended The Big Over Easy (about Humpty Dumpty’s tragic fall) and The Eyre Affair (particularly for those who love Charlotte Bronte).  Since this new feature of the book discussion session was so well received, I definitely plan to continue it!

BOOK CLUBS FOR KIDS:  The library where I volunteer, Arlington Heights Memorial, is offering two book discussion opportunities for children this summer.  “Pizza, Books & More:  Pictures of Hollis Woods,” is open to all, including those who are blind or visually impaired.  The books are available at the Kids’ World desk in advance of the meeting, and youngsters are invited to come have a pizza, make a craft, and share their ideas about the book (which was recently dramatized on TV’s Hallmark Hall of Fame, featuring famed actors Sissy Spacek and Alfre Woodard).  “The Read and Meet Book Club: Lord of the Rings” is a series of events — a lively discussion group that explores J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels.  This month, the members are urged to read The Fellowship of the Ring, then watch the movie on their own, and join the book club to discuss the book versus the movie.  This activity is recommended for ages 11 and up.  I share this information in case you are involved in developing programs for children and are looking for a book discussion angle.  Perhaps you can adapt and expand upon these ideas!

ANOTHER BOOK TO READ, WATCH AND DISCUSS:  Following up on Kaite’s recent buzz about well-known books coming to the big screen this fall — especially books that have been popular with discussion groups — I’d like to add to the list The Secret Life of Bees.  This novel, by Sue Monk Kidd, has been a book group favorite ever since it was published, and it will soon be in movie theaters, in a celluloid version starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys.  Those names ought to attract the interest of plenty of movie fans, who will probably be clamoring for the book, if they haven’t already read it — and if they have, perhaps the movie will send them back for a second look!

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About the Author:

Ted Balcom lives in Arlington Heights, IL and conducts workshops on leading book discussions, about which he has also published a book: Book Discussions for Adults: A Leader’s Guide (American Library Association, 1992).

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