29 January, 2008

Reading, book clubs and other musings

When people ask me where I work and I say "Yarra Plenty Regional Library" the inevitable reply is "how lovely, you must be able to do a lot of reading!"

Well, the truth of the matter is that I don't do nearly as much as I would like, and certainly not as much as many of our borrowers. My reading is done at the end of the day, and a few pages of a Bill Bryson or a short story is about the extent of it. But the January holidays have given me the opportunity of finishing a wonderful novel, and it reminded me again of the joy I used to have in immersing myself in someone else's life and experiences. The book I have just finished A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was published by Faber & Faber in 1996 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It tells the story of 4 people brought together in mid-1970s India, where a "State of Internal Emergency" has been declared. The book was engrossing - and confronting, funny, sad, tragic and inspiring. I can highly recommend it.

While poking around on the internet, I also found a terrific site for bookclubs - Reading Group Guides. It provides a summary of the book and discussion questions to consider.
As I mentioned in my last post, we now have a reading wiki up and running - have a look at it and add your comments. There's a section there for book clubs too, the Library has been supporting Book Groups for over 20 years. We currently have over 30 registered Book Groups that are either library facilitated Book Groups or independently run Book Groups who use our collections.

Library Book Groups meet on a monthly basis in one of our eight branches and regular meeting times are set and discussions facilitated by our staff.

Independent Book Groups are formed by individuals who meet regularly in a variety of places. Each branch has a staff member who helps with selection and supply of titles to these groups.

You can be involved with Book Groups in two ways:

1. Register you interest in being part of a Library Book Group at your local branch.
2. Start you own Book Group - all you need is a group of friends and a passion for reading. You can register your interest in starting your own group, just ask a staff member.

The library has a wide selection of titles to choose from in our Book Group Kits. Kits hold 12 copies of the same title. Registered Book Groups can nominate which titles they would like to read during the year and collect the kits from their nominated local library branch. It's easy!

And a bit more on my reading of late, I am enjoying Three Junes by Julia Glass on my drive to work - I've downloaded it from our Overdrive site, and its terrific! Beautifully narrated by John Keating with the most delicious Scottish burr, it has transformed the trip down Plenty Road!

I'd be pleased to hear about your experiences with book clubs, and how the library might help you - and you might like to recommend titles for our kits too.


Anonymous said...

It's great to see your support for book clubs. I joined the Mill Park library book club 4 years ago and have enjoyed it immensely and always look forward to our 3rd Thursday each month. Judy Thompson has been wonderful in facilitating our group, recommending a great selection of books and conducting very involved discussion sessions when we meet each month. The book club has been a great morale booster for me after being a stay-home mum for 13 years! Now that I have joined the work force again, I still make sure that I have my 3rd Thursday off to allow me to attend the book group to catch up with the other members for both the intellectual stimulation and social interaction that we so look forward to. The majority of us have been in the group all the 4 years! Unfortunately, there is a rumour that Judy's position in running our book club may not be tenable soon. If there is any truth in this, I would like to voice my concern that it would be most disappointing to all of us as she is a great resource and it would a great loss to Mill Park library not to have her run the book clubs there. Without her we would not have had the opportunity to read all the wonderful (and some not so wonderful!) books. Well, the 'not so wonderful books' stimulated lots of intellectual discussions in the group.

Im Lee
(Please excuse me for signing on as anonymous as I do not know how to use the other identities.)

MaryC said...

I've just written a glowing report of the activities of the ineluctable Mill Park library book club, and the computer just wiped out my entire heartfelt musings!
Just meant to say that the Club has been a very positive force in eth lives of about 14 women past teh first flush of youth. Full credit for the success of this club, which has been going for five and a half years, goes to our moderator, Judy, and immensely skilled and knowledgeable woman. She somehow manages to draw everyone into discussion, and ensures that our contributions are fairly equal - no easy task with a coven of opinionted, chatty types who are often passionate about the book of the month. In fact the life experience of many of these women adds an invaluable dimension to our discourse.
Our favourite books have included The Book Thief by Markus Zusac, The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini, and Joe Cinque's Consolation by Helen Garner. But there have been too many great books to mention. Can't wait for our next meeting. We're reading Ian McEwan's Atonement.

Anonymous said...

I have been a member of the Mill Park Daytime Book Club since its inception some 4 or so years ago. We are all most enthusiastic readers and the commitment of Librarian, Jude Thomson, has made this a monthly priority on our calendar. Some books raise personal experiences that we might not feel able to discuss with family members, but are prepared to cover here with like-minded people.

I love the wide variety of books we have read and always endeavour to finish each one, although it's a bit challenging with some of `the classics'. This Club has enhanced my reading experience, introducing me to many outstanding authors, whose other books I now seek out.

We all look forward to our monthly get-together under the excellent leadership of Jude and I hope we can continue well into the future. As the oldest member it is really nice to have interaction with younger people and to hear their thoughts on the books,often coming from an entirely different perspective.
Benda Gorely

Anonymous said...

I have been part of the Mill Park Library club since its inception approx. four years ago. and what a joy it is to be part of this group. I am living on my own and Judy and the wonderful group of club members have become friends and confidants. Judy has brought us together and through our reading of her choice of novels we have shared experiences, laughed and cried together and have become a community. Different ages and backgrounds enrich our bookclub just as it enriches the Whittlesea community. The discussion Judy promotes stimulates our minds and encourages us to further explore the subjects and the authors. Without this wonderful group I would be isolated, please keep it going.