By December 9, 2009 1 Comments Read More →

Walking in Nostalgia Wonderland

nostalgia-waxWhen you’re walking in nostalgia wonderland, it’s best to go with friends.

It’s ironic–No, that’s too nice: It’s ANNOYING that during this month in which we have the least spare time that there are more books competing for our attention than any other time of year. I’ve already written about what I think about Christmas books. The booksellers are shilling up a storm and the best of the year lists are popping up everywhere. For book groups, however, I recommend skipping all of these and using the next meeting to exploit the most important of all holiday emotions: that’s where nostalgia comes in.

Whether you’re reflecting on the past year, re-connecting with old friends, trying to select thoughtful gifts, or reminiscing with family, you can’t avoid waxing nostalgic this time of year. I suspect that the warm glow of nostalgia drives the economic engine of the holidays. If you’re bookish, that past-love extends to your reading history. Since Christmas books can contribute to a holiday overdose and some people find it difficult to read something new this time of year, why not go with the flow of memories? You’re going to have to muddle through the nostalgia somehow, do it where it will help you get to know your reading friends better.

Here’s how: For your next meeting, ask each person to talk about (and preferably bring) some of the books that they remember best– books associated with a particular life event, memory, or significant person. Love of a particular book can speak volumes about the kind of person one is, or a memory of reading may attach to a personal epiphany. The way one shared a book with someone else can signify much about that relationship. The books that captivated one in as a child define or illustrate the kind of person one has become. Any of these are pleasant paths to explore, and that exploration often clarifies the future too, making it apparent which book one needs to read next.

I’ll be back later this week with examples of my own book nostalgia. Until then, don’t interrupt my reverie.

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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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