The Lisle Library District has a long history of offering a variety of book groups, including the Science Fiction & Fantasy book group which has been meeting monthly for over 30 years and still has a few founding members, while the Food for Thought culinary book group is new as of this January. Our groups also cover Fiction, Nonfiction, and Mystery titles.
I surveyed the LLD book group facilitators for insights on their particular groups and on book groups in general, and the results are below:
Fixed on Fiction facilitated by Elizabeth Hopkins, Director of Adult Services
We are a friendly group of readers who primarily discuss Fiction with the occasional Non-Fiction offering. Our members are from all walks of life and appreciate the joy that comes from sharing books with good friends.
I have an exceptionally open-minded group who are always willing to read outside of their comfort zone. Each year they always surprise me with some of the titles they choose and I'm consistently proud of their dedication to reading broadly.
I find that book group is just good for the soul...for both the patrons and for me as the facilitator! Spending time talking books with a group of kind, well-read folks is such a joy. If I'm perhaps feeling a bit deflated or in need of a pick-me-up, book group always reminds me of why I work in libraries.
Food for Thought - A Culinary Discussion Group facilitated by Noelle Spicher, Adult and Teen Focus Librarian
Food For Thought is a cookbook book group that focuses on one theme each meeting like brunch or baking. Participants each choose a book to suit the month's theme, cook a recipe from the book, and then report back with findings, pictures, joys, frustrations, recommendations, and general discussion.
This discussion group runs very smoothly on its own. While I have only had a few meetings so far, I have learned to mostly sit back and let the discussion guide itself with only occasional interjections to refocus the group or to give a little warning when time is running low. While I may have had my own expectations for what discussions would entail, it has been a great experience to let go of those expectations and enjoy the discussions as they unfold.
Murder Among Friends facilitated by Patricia Ruocco, Adult Services Librarian
We cover the full range of mystery and crime novels in choosing the books we read. A unique part of our mystery selection process is that we consider whether or not the authors of the books would be interested in joining our discussion, either digitally or in-person if that is possible. We give special attention to emerging authors – especially if they are local.
I have found it to be invaluable to attend mystery conferences. I usually try to get to at least the local one in Chicago (Midwest Mystery Conference held bi-annually) and two out of state conferences: Malice Domestic & Bouchercon. Between these three, I get a great current overview of the key mystery genres our mystery patrons usually want: local mysteries, traditional/cozy mysteries, P.I.s, police procedurals, suspense, and others! Not only can I see what new books authors have coming up, but whether or not they’d be good Zooming candidates if we choose one of their books to talk about.
Booked for the Day facilitated by Jean Demas, Literacy and Adult Services Librarian
The Booked for the Day discussion group is interesting in that we read books in a variety of genres including fiction, nonfiction, science fiction/fantasy, biography, and mystery.
As a facilitator, I strive to keep the discussion moving forward and to give each participant an opportunity to speak without placing anyone "on the spot" to contribute. I do this by having a series of questions about the book, such as favorite characters, memorable quotes, or best part of the plot, to draw out members who may not be as comfortable with discussing their thoughts, especially if the person's like or dislike of the book is different than others who comment. I also allow time at the start of each monthly discussion to "chit/chat" about anything we want to share with each other which makes our group more personable and provides a connection among participants.
Just the Facts facilitated by Krista Kloepper, Interlibrary Loan Coordinator and Adult Services Librarian
The Just the Facts book group is smaller than our other groups, but the members have big opinions, and share them well. I have about four on average, and we have wonderful discussions, and laugh...a lot.
The group is unique because we discuss nonfiction, and each member brings a unique viewpoint to our discussions. So many different life experiences help highlight aspects of our books that not everyone has thought of. I'll say this about Just the Facts, if this wasn't a library sponsored group, I would join it on my own! It's so much fun, even when we have a consensus that we didn't like the book.
Science Fiction & Fantasy facilitated by Gail Graziani, Assistant Director of Adult Services
The SF-F group is special in that a few members have been in the group for 30 plus years! To begin each meeting we mention other books we are reading or shows we are watching. We also choose from a list of codes to describe each book (for example: coming of age, dirigibles, and cats), and rate each title on a scale from 1-5.
The depth of knowledge about the various genres and classics in this group is a wonderful resource for our discussions, but I can personally testify that the group is very welcoming to those who are newer to their speculative fiction journey!
To support the book groups, we prepare a flyer four times a year that includes the upcoming meetings and we list the information in the Library’s newsletter. We also offer a display of past book group titles which has proven to be a great resource for readers’ advisory and for browsing. Overall, LLD’s six book groups are examples of a thriving, core library service that continues to bring people together for discussion, community, and fun.
Our guest post today is from Gail Graziani, Assitant Director of Adult Services at Lisle Library District.