Birth Year Bash

1968Here’s a fun theme for an upcoming meeting: Ask each reader in your group to select a book that represents the year of his or her birth. For added fun, bring food or drinks that were typical of the era, memorabilia, a copy of the bestseller list, or a list of events that occurred during the year (either literary happenings or important events in the news.) Most of these items are easy to find with online searches.

If your group is game (and of a workable size), you might extend the birth year bash for an entire cycle, devoting a full meeting to each reader’s birth year, with readers born in the meeting year sharing a little bit of their family history. It’s a fantastic way to  help your membership learn more about each other.

I was born in 1968, so I might bring one of the my favorite kid’s books, published in that year, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test came out in August and certainly captures the spirit of the times. Arthur Hailey’s Airport and John Updike’s Couples were the two biggest fiction bestsellers that year.

Generally, I’m disappointed with the fiction from my birth year, so my pick would probably be a book I just finished: Mark Kurlansky’s 1968: The Year that Rocked the World. It’s just as good as Kurlansky’s better-known microhistories Salt and Cod. Here he looks at everything that happened in a tumultuous year, but focuses especially on student radicals in the United States, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Mexico. Of course there’s also coverage of the King and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the presidential campaign and Chicago Democratic Convention, the Vietnam War, the Mexico City Olympics, and the civil rights and women’s movements.

What books would you choose to represent your year of birth?



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).

1 Comment on "Birth Year Bash"

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  1.' Rebecca says:

    I never realized how many good books were published in 1972. I cannot decide if I should pick one of my favorites from childhood, Frog and Toad Together, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, or Freaky Friday. Then there are An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James, Enemies: A Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, or Watership Down by Richard Adams. Too many great choices.

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