By December 23, 2009 2 Comments Read More →

Year of Reading with The Downtowners

I facilitate three book groups and last week was spent in a furious round of picking titles for discussion next year and trying very hard not to overlap selections.

Avoiding duplication is great for participants, but can be a little rough on the facilitator (namely, moi). I don’t read as quickly as I used to and it’s easy for all the reading in one month to pile up.

The big benefit is adding all this great reading to my list and always having a new conversation to look forward to. The Downtowners Book Group of The Kansas City Public Library all contribute titles for suggestion. I pull together brief annotations of each title, create a voting ballot, gather as many copies as possible and head off to book group to book talk what I can and then everyone votes.

This year Downtowners have elected to read and discuss the following:

January will have the Downtowners participating in the KCPL Winter Reading Program, “Readers in the Rue Morgue” by discussing Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. February brings a special guest to Downtowners. Local author, Matthew Eck, has made time in his schedule to chat with us about his debut novel, The Farther Shore.mysticriver1

In March, we’re all hopping on the book group bandwagon and finally getting around to reading Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster. The Big Read comes to Kansas City again in April with Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. We get our first nonfiction selection of the year with Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff.

We’re going to lighten up a little bit in the warmer months with Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve strongly encouraged participants to give the audio version of this lovely book a try. The original bird songs and the author’s deft reading of her own words are an audible delight. July will see us delving into some historical fiction with Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.prodigalsummer

Our next nonfiction choice was Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose. We go back to fiction in September with the most recent National Book Award winner, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. We talked about screening Man on Wire after our discussion. We’re going to try another big prizewinner; Nobel Laureate Herta Muller’s The Appointment will be our October selection. We will finish our year with another current book group favorite, Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. In December, we meet for cookies and general book gabbery and vote on 2011.

If your book group has read any of the above titles, please share your experiences. We’d love to incorporate your thoughts in our discussion.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

2 Comments on "Year of Reading with The Downtowners"

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  1. I will stand by my statement that I believe Mystic River to be the best contemporary crime novel that I have read. Your group should love this one.

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