By September 20, 2011 1 Comments Read More →

Bringing Back the Buzz, Pt. 9

My series of methods for reviving a stale book group continues:


Our reading habits are deeply shaped by our parents or other reading role models. An enlightening evening can be spent exploring these influences. Ask each reader to try a book that was a favorite of a reader who influenced his or her choices. Everyone should come to the meeting prepared to tell the group a little bit about a person they remember and their experience reading in the footsteps of that role model.


I love the magic that happens when we read a great book out loud, and a read-in, with your members taking turns in rotation, is guaranteed to produce a memorable event. Even better, make your read-a-thon part of a public event as a way of publicizing your book group and reading in general. Whether it’s part of a book fair, an arts festival, a promotion for a local bookstore, or some other event, you’re on your way. Arrange a microphone so that background conversations can be held while the reader holds forth. Include plenty of refreshments, and perhaps some appropriate background visual projections. Leave copies of the book around at tables so that anyone who stops in can follow along if they wish, and make a flier available that describes your group and it’s history.


As either a summarizing activity or an icebreaker, and a way to create a record of your group’s reading history, this tip is hard to beat. At the start or end of each meeting, ask each member to rate the book on a scale from 1 to 10. Finding the right method for rating may take some experimentation. Some groups thoroughly enjoy the debate that comes with going around the circle and very briefly making the case for the rating. But if you’ve got members who can be unintentionally abrasive or too thin skinned, you might limit this to an activity done without discussion or in anonymity. Regardless, calculate the average score and save a record for future consultation.

You can read Pt. 8 here, and link through it to the rest of the suggestions in this series.



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 "Bringing Back the Buzz, Pt. 9"

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  1.' Shelley says:

    I think bringing in a short interview with the author also sparks discussion. In my opinion the best “interview” in contemporary literature is Sherman Alexie….

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