May Themes

may-dayHere are ten themes appropriate for May book group discussions:

1. SPACE DAY

It’s celebrated the first Saturday of the month, which means it’s on May 1st this year. Why not read nonfiction about space, science fiction, or other novels such as James Michener’s Space or Ira Sher’s Gentlemen of Space.

2. CINCO DE MAYO

Commemorate this Mexican holiday with books by Mexican authors or set in Mexico.

3. MAYDAY!

Yeah, you could look for books about springtime and dancing around a pole, but I prefer the frightening kind of mayday. Look for books set during a crisis or emergency for thrilling reads.

4. SHANGHAI

They’re opening the World Expo in Shanghai this month. You probably can’t go, but try great titles with Shanghai settings like Tom Bradby’s The Master of Rain, J. G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans, Xialong Qiu’s Inspector Chen Cao mysteries, Bartle Bull’s Shanghai Station, or Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls.

5. JEWISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

There’s a raft of great Jewish-American fiction to choose from, and some interesting nonfiction choices too. Or just pick books by Jewish-American authors.

6. MOTHER’S DAY

It’s May 9th this year. Send the gift, then sit down with the novel of your choice about mothers.

7. MAY BIRTHDAYS

If your group likes biographies, the May crop of birthdays will produce some fascinating choices. For instance, Patrick Henry, JFK, Walt Whitman, Isadora Duncan, Willie Mays, Karl Marx, Piotr Tchaikovsky, Katharine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Salvador Dali, John Brown, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, Florence Nightingale, Jimmy Stewart, Sigmund Freud, and Harry Truman were all born in May.

8. DATE YOUR MATE, NATIONAL RECOMMITMENT MONTHS

May is the month of choice for two marriage-related commemmorations. Why not try a novel about the joys or travails of the married life?

9. CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN

The first summit of Mount Everest was on May 29th in 1953. Celebrate with an exciting nonfiction adventure story about mountain climbing.

10. MEMORIAL DAY

Your group might choose to read war novels, war nonfiction, or fiction with themes of grieving for or remembering the dead.

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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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