My experience for this assignment was wonderful! I’ll tell a deep dark secret and say I’ve never been part of a book club, but this one definitely turned me on to them. I’m not sure if I’ve never been to one because I received my fill with my undergrad classes (all English majors do is read and talk about what they read) but after being away for two years this experience was like a breath of fresh air. What I think I realized most was the great opportunity book clubs really are; giving a safe space to discuss books. I know that seems really obvious but like I said, I’d never been a part of one before. The meeting seemed to go along normal lines from our reading and from what I’d expected but just having the experience go so well made it seem amazing.
The format of the time seemed to follow the outline we saw on ilovelibraries.org, although the timing was different. As people filled in the group did the socializing part and caught up with those they may not have seen. The group was small and I found out later that the members hadn’t changed much so I was a bit of a magnet for their attention. After the majority had arrived, the leader went into some issues the club had to discuss. This mostly included the fact that their next book was late and they needed to decide whether to wait or skip it and go to the next selection. Considering I was brand new, I was a bit surprised that my opinion was asked on this but it defiantly made me feel even more welcome and included. This altogether took about 45 minutes and the rest of the 3 hour time was spent on discussion of the book.
The leader was a librarian of the library that housed the book club and gave out the discussion questions. The questions were not necessarily deep but were involved enough to get people talking back and forth about what they thought about the book. The participants all talked and I wouldn’t say that anyone dominated. There were those that talked at every question but they allowed others to speak their mind. All in all the discussion was very spread out among the people and even the leader added their opinion but she often held it to last or only showed agreement to someone else’s statement. It was also very open and didn’t have any a set way or order people had to talk. However, people were very polite and didn’t try to talk over each other, one of the ways I could tell they’d been together for a while.
I’d come a little early and had the opportunity to see the leader and another librarian that was part of the club discussing their next book choices. I already knew they’d chosen the books for the year as they have fliers out and a link to the book list on the library’s main website, so I could guess that they were discussing options for the next year. This goes against the advice of ilovelibraries.org as it said to not choose for the whole year. I think, however, that as it was a library they may have to in order to give out advertisement but I already mentioned a bit of an issue such a choice can cause. From the listing, they do have a good range of different genres and themes going on through the year.
While the club was small it was obvious that it was a group that loved talking about books and being with people that wanted some good discussion. It wasn’t necessarily very formal, as they allowed anyone to join, but it was structured and the leader read off questions she had listed so it wasn’t as free as possible. It was a fun experience and one I look forward to repeating.