The nonfiction reading group of Seekonk Public Library, Massachusetts, reads narrative nonfiction. This group is only a year old, so the leader, Ben Phinney, has had the recent opportunity to think about the best ways to build and grow a core group of dedicated readers—he has some great advice for groups just getting started.
Leader: Ben Phinney
Years of Operation: 1 year
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Tell us a little about your book group.
Our library has a nonfiction book group that meets the last Tuesday of each month. Other nonfiction groups I’ve seen at neighboring libraries have a more narrow scope but we try to read all topics. I try to choose nonfiction that is described as narrative and around 300 pages. One limiting factor for us is availability at the library. We have trouble doing newer books because it is difficult to get a hold of copies. It’s also difficult finding copies of more unique titles as there aren’t enough to request in our network. We’ve been meeting for about a year.
Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?
The group’s favorite this year was Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Which is the most divisive book your group has read, and why?
Our least favorite book was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I found it to be an interesting read but many felt it was too dark and refused to read it. This was early on in the group so we hadn’t gained a core group of readers yet. But, this title was just a flop. I think it would be a different experience now that we have a core group.
How do your group discussions work?
I moderate the discussions. I generally let the conversation go wherever it goes but will drop new talking points if tangents go off topic for too long.
What is the best piece of advice you’d give a group that is just getting started?
Two pieces of advice I’d give a new group are to have copies of the next month’s book ready to hand out at each meeting (I found this is extra motivation to come back). Also, get an accurate list of contact information if the schedule needs to be adjusted (we lost a lot of readers early on due to schedule changes cause by the holidays).
Are you looking for new members? If so, leave your contact info for those interested.
We are always looking for new members. You can see our forthcoming reading selections here: http://library.booksite.com/7577/nl/?list=CNL1&group=EB136
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