By December 5, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

Discussing Fiction Genres

Following up on Gary and Neil’s posts about everyone in the book group reading and talking about a different book, I’d like to share how the staff of the Arlington Heights (IL) Memorial Library is utilizing this concept to study various fiction genres.

A group of library staffers who serve adult readers meets quarterly, for about an hour.  Each person comes to the meeting having read a book in a previously assigned genre (for instance, a recent choice was literary fiction by non-U.S. authors).  The reference for selecting the genre to be discussed is the Adult Reading Round Table’s  Adult Popular Fiction List.

Each person has five minutes to talk about their book.  Working from a form designed by the group leaders, the group members have prepared an outline of the information they have decided to share — but they are not supposed to look at the outline during their presentation.  The idea behind this structure is that they are approaching their book talks as if they were conversing with a patron in the stacks.  At the end of the session, each participant leaves with copies of the others’ information sheets for future reference.

The presenter covers title, author, a brief summary of the plot, the writing style of the author, the appeal of the book to a prospective reader, several read-alikes, and other related information, such as social issues within the story and awards given to the book.

Participants may ask questions about the books as well as comment on the overall appeal of the genre, once all of the presentations have been made.  For instance, in talking about literary fiction, the group agreed that character development usually predominates over plot, and then tried to come up with some examples where the reverse is true.  The discussions often lead to a greater understanding of what authors writing in a particular genre are trying to accomplish.

If your group is interested in exploring different fiction genres and learning more about those you don’t generally opt to read, this is an idea for a series of  offbeat book discussions, and perhaps you should think about giving it a try.

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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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