By January 13, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

Taking Your Book Group Public

In my spare (ha!) time, I organize a Con. I’ve been with MarsCon in Williamsburg for eight years now, wearing many hats (usually my trusty bowler), for the last two serving as Programming Chair. Our best known guest this year is S.M. Stirling (whose books, especially those about The Change in Nantucket or Oregon, would make a fun, thought-provoking read for your group. See for instance, Dies the Fire), but we have ten or fifteen press-published authors on this year’s roster along with a slew of other artists, entertainers, and subject authorities. By the time it’s all over with this coming Sunday, we’ll have put on over 90 events for around 1,000 guests. Science fiction and fantasy conventions aren’t exactly like what you see in the media, but that’s the subject for a different post on a different blog.

The reason I bring this up here, is that today I had one of those late-forming brainstorms that arrived too late to be appropriate now and will have to be filed away for future reference. An event that should be on our agenda is a public meeting of our science fiction and fantasy book group. We could have read a book by one of the guests, invited the author, used the forum as our monthly meeting, and recruited other event guests interested in sampling how our open-invitation book group meets. What a great chance to find appropriate local readers for a special interest book group!

How about plugging a meeting into a local arts festival? Maybe a First Night celebration or other holiday event? A school event or parent-teacher conference night? In conjunction with the next author reading at your library? The possibilities are almost endless, and it strikes me as an easy way to build membership, promote reading, and create a special, unusual event for your group.

I suspect as usual that my little brainstorm is nothing new under the sun. Has anybody tried a public book group meeting as part of a larger event? I’d be curious to hear about your experiences. But only after MarsCon is over. Until then, I’ll be busy.



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 "Taking Your Book Group Public"

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  1.' Al Oliveras says:

    Currently I conduct book discussions online. For upcoming discussions,visit my blog at

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