Of all the book groups I facilitate I have the most fun scheduling the reading for the Downtowners. I have seen this book group grow into more than readers who gather to chat about the current selection. They have become friends who care for one another and more than a few have become good friends of mine. I even reconnected with an older friend from many years back since I became a part of the Downtowners.
I want everyone to like every book we select but I know that won’t happen as the year progresses. What I do hear from everyone is how excited they are once our new list is announced. I know there will be at least one dud on the list and one surprise favorite, but it’s too soon to tell and there’s no way I can predict. The Downtowners have surprised me in the past and I expect this tradition to continue.
Here’s our list of readings for 2013. We tie into other Kansas City Public Library reading events whenever possible. We also plan to continue our book/film pairing discussions.
January: In the Heat of the Night by John Ball. This is an Official KCPL Adult Winter Reading Program selection. This year’s theme is While the City Sleeps. We will also be offering a Read It/Watch It discussion for this mystery.
February: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Another Official KCPL Adult Winter Reading Program Selection and the fantasy entry. It should also satisfy the reader in the group who likes “big meaty books” during the winter.
March: The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez. This memoir was a recent National Book Award nominee. The group was almost unanimous in selecting this title.
April: The Submission by Amy Waldman. Readers all said they’d heard great things about this post-9/11 novel. It’s a sensational audiobook as well and I’ll be giving it to the members who enjoy listening to their reading.
May: Brick Lane by Monica Ali. The selection of this novel surprised me. However, it probably shouldn’t have since this group has a very strong interest in international fiction and fiction that focuses on cultures outside of the United States.
June: The Dead by James Joyce. Just in time for Bloomsday, we’ll be reading one of Joyce’s most famous works. We are also planning a Read It/Watch It for this novella. The film starring Angelica Huston was a critical success.
July: Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. This is the summer title that will rotate among three book groups at one location. Members of Common Grounds, Women Who Dare, and Downtowners will have the opportunity to visit the other book groups who have also chosen this title for the season.
August: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I have already discussed this book in another group, but many of our members haven’t read this award-winning piece of narrative nonfiction. Also a stellar audiobook production.
September: Our September title is TBA as KCPL waits to hear the status of a Big Read grant application.
October: Citizens of London by Lynne Olson. We are pairing this historical nonfiction with the November title below.
November: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. This is the selection that surprised me. It had more votes from the group than almost any other title on the ballot. We are also considering a Read It/Watch It for this delightful epistolary memoir.
December: Readers’ Round Up is our annual holiday gathering. We share what we’ve been reading during the year, offer up suggestions for the book group, cast and tally votes on the ballot and engage in biblio-gabbery as a seasonal soother.
And we laughingly lament that we only have eleven books to choose and wonder how we will ever get to all the other good books out there.