Choosing your books?

After ruminating on last week’s post, where no one liked the book I chose, I started thinking about how book groups choose their titles.

The group I’m in currently rotates – anyone who has a suggestion makes it at the end of the meeting.  It doesn’t give us much time to get in gear, but it’s a small group so it works for us.

Most library-sponsored groups I’ve run tend to set a schedule for the year.  Usually, it’s the moderator who picks the titles, with some input from the group members.  In the past, I’ve put together a list of 18 or so annotated titles and let members vote on which ones they’d like to do for the year.

I once had a group who told me flat out that they didn’t want the responsibility of choosing titles!  They also said however, that they appreciated reading things they never would have picked themselves, so it was more that they were interested in a totally different view rather than shirking responsibility.

I’d love to know how other groups pick their books – is it one person?  A group vote from a list?  Pick  a year at a time or fly by the seat of your pants?  Leave a comment and let me know!



About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

6 Comments on "Choosing your books?"

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  1.' CarolK says:

    Our three adult book groups (library) pick by consensus of the group. At a planning meeting held each June, each member comes with 2 to 3 titles to suggest for the following year’s discussions. Then the group votes with the top vote getters becoming the choices for the following round of discussions. The member who suggested the book is responsible for getting the discussion going, providing a bit about the author, etc. Our library staff is always willing to help with any of this. Our book groups have been meeting for several years and this seems to work for us.

  2. Our group selects our books by ballot. At the start of the year we have all members nominate a title. All titles are placed into a bowl and 10 titles are then drawn. It works really well for us.

  3.' PaulaT says:

    In December of each year, each member of our book club picks a book for the group to read. A master list of the 12 books is typed and distributed. We have 12 members, and we usually meet at the person’s house in the month to which her book has been assigned. (If my book was assigned to be read in Feb, the group would meet at my house in Feb.) We pick only paperbacks because of cost. Our town is small so the library has a relatively small collection. Most members collect some information/questions to promote discussion of their selection.

  4.' Holly says:

    Each month a different member of the group offers 3 titles, then we vote. The recommender breaks any ties. We like the democratic process. 🙂

  5.' Martha says:

    At the end of each meeting we decide by consensus on the next book. Sometimes people come with specific books to recommend … other times people bring lists of recommended books. Sometimes we will pick books for the next 2 months … usually only when there are 2 front runners or if one book is particularly long and people might need more time to read it.

  6.' Holley says:

    Our daytime group selects twice a year from an annotated list put together by the librarian who moderates the group. The group I lead, a genre group, also picks 6 months at a time from a ballot of topics. I keep a list of the suggestions I often get from participants, as well as a few I dig up here and there (including this blog!). Once a topic is chosen, I pull a selection of books that fit the genre but make a point of reminding the participants that they may select a book of their own choosing as well.

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