Although we celebrate new beginnings in January each year, September has always felt more like beginning anew to me. Summer has ended, children are back in school, days are getting visibly shorter and daily life takes on a new rhythm. The easy going attitude of summer is replaced with more focused resolve. With a shift in the seasons, comes a shift in outlook. We’re eager to take on new challenges, explore new interests and pursue new pastimes. It’s no different at the library. September brings a new schedule of programs and special events, none more special that our book discussion groups.
Book discussion groups or book clubs are more popular than ever. By some estimates, more than five million people in this country sit down together every few weeks to discuss what they’ve been reading. They gather in living rooms, local libraries, community centers, church basements, bookstores and bars in communities large and small from Boston to Seattle.
There are discussion groups for every gender, interest and age. There are book clubs for women, men, couples, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, grandparents and grandchildren, teens and tweens. There are single-author groups – think Jane Austen – and single genre groups, such as of history, romance, science fiction, or mystery. There are book clubs you don’t even have to leave the house to join. For those who prefer online clubs, you’ll find dozens of online books clubs on GoodReads, including groups for baseball, science fiction and the paranormal. Whatever your inclination, there will be a like-minded group of people somewhere who share your enthusiasm. We have to ask, what is the appeal?
The appeal of the book discussion group can be described in two words, reflection and connection. You hear different points of view that either challenge or confirm your own thinking, helping to create layers of understanding that might otherwise be missed. Before voicing your opinion, you must take time to reflect on your understanding of the author’s characters and plot. Part of that reflection is connecting your own experiences to the story – to validate or reject the story’s authenticity.
Through discussion we not only connect to the story, but to each other. Book clubs are wonderful places to meet new friends. It’s a place where honesty and ideas are valued. It’s a place for self-expression and sharing. It’s a place for friendship, caring, laughter and fun. If this sounds appealing, consider joining one of the book discussion groups that the library sponsors. Groups meet on the first and second Wednesdays of each month at 1:00 or the second Tuesday at 6:30. A Men’s Only Book Club meets on the first Tuesday evening and a Read Together Book Group for children, ages 8 to 12 meets on the second Sunday afternoon. For more information, contact the library at 508-823-1344.