Themes for July

Here are ten themes your group might try for its meeting next month:

1. CANADA DAY

July 1st is Canada’s national holiday. Celebrate by reading Canadian authors, books set in Canada, or books about Canadian history. Try Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland, Robertson Davies, Brian Moore, Alice Munro, Farley Mowat, Michael Ondaatje, or Carol Shields.

2. 4TH OF JULY

There are dozens of ways to approach a thematic meeting for Independence Day. You might focus on works of American history or historical fiction. Explore the panorama of America with stories of epic American travel or pick a small selection of the country’s great authors to read or its heroes to read about.

3. P. T. BARNUM’S 200TH BIRTHDAY

He was born on July 5, 1810. How about reading books with circus themes such as Water for Elephants, The Circus in Winter, or The Circus Fire?

4. JULY BIRTHDAYS

If your group is ready for a round of biographies, you might celebrate birthday boys and girls such as Beatrix Potter, Princess Diana, Thurgood Marshall, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Neil Simon, David Brinkley, John Quincy Adams, Henry Thoreau, Henry Ford, Woody Guthrie, Edmund Hillary, Ernest Hemingway, Mick Jagger, or Amelia Earhart.

5. MOVIES

We’re at the height of the summer movie season this month. Books about film would be a good choice for July. It’s also a bumper crop month for movie star birthdays. Try a biography of Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Olivia de Havilland, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Eva Marie Saint, Anjelica Huston, Yul Brynner, Patrick Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Will Ferrell, James Cagney, Ginger Rogers, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Wood, Robin Williams, Walter Brennan, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, and Arnold Schwarzennegger, who were all born in July.

6. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

One of the great book group classics was published 50 years ago, on July 11, 1960. Celebrate by re-reading the book or Charles J. Shields’ recent biography of Harper Lee, Mockingbird.

7. VIVA LA FRANCE

While we’re celebrating national holidays, let’s not forget France. Bastille Day is the 14th and the spectacle of the Tour de France also happens this month. Try French authors, a focus on the French Revolution, or history or historical fiction set in France, perhaps Sebastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement, one of Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc mysteries, Louis Bayard’s The Black Tower, Sena Jeter Naslund’s Abundance, or a classic like Les Miserables.

8. SUMMER HEAT

Take it easy with a month of beach books or books that bring the heat: maybe Raymond Chandler’s Red Wind, Dean King’s survival story Skeletons on the Zahara, Robert Girardi’s recent French Foreign Legion novel Gorgeous East, Frances Mayes’ sojourn Under the Tuscan Sun, or any of Dorothea Benton Frank’s South Carolina lowcountry novels?

9. SCANDINAVIAN CRIME

If the heat is getting to you, try some counterprogramming. Take a double dose of ice: chilly events in chilly climates with crime novels by authors like Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Arnaldur Indridason, Jo Nesbo, Ake Edwardson, Karin Fossum, or Henning Mankell.

10. FAMILY REUNION MONTH

This is the official commemorative month and family stories are always great book group reading. Pat Conroy, Laura Moriarty, Anne Tyler, Jeanette Walls, Richard Russo, Louisa May Alcott, David Sedaris, or Augusten Burroughs are just a few of the many authors who write interesting books about families.

Comments

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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).

4 Comments on "Themes for July"

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  1. Always happy to speak to a book club about Harper Lee and To Kill and Mockingbird by phone! I’ve done this many times and had enjoyable conversations with library patrons, book clubs, and bookstore customers all over the country.

    Best,

    Charles J. Shields

  2. shavers@crc.losrios.edu' Shelley says:

    I owe a great deal to the late Horton Foote, screenplay writer for To Kill A Mockingbird. As far as book club reading goes, it’s impossible to think of another example where both the novel and the film made from the novel both stand in their own right as works of art.

  3. shavers@crc.losrios.edu' Shelley says:

    Thanks–I didn’t know the exact publication date of the book, and of course I also love the movie. I feel an enormous debt of gratitude to Horton Foote for his support of my writing, and I know he and Harper Lee were close and trusting friends.

    I will celebrate July 11!

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