Thursday, February 13, 2020

Library Book Clubs

Writers must be readers. One hears that quite often.

Writers must “read” like a “writer.” Yes, that is true. There is a difference

Writers must read in their genre, but not exclusively. Also, true.

Reading widely exposes one to different styles, old and new; ideas for punctuation and verb tense; builds vocabulary; and showcases methods for presenting dialog. Most of all, it provides a point of reference for how one is progressing in the writerly craft. Writing at its heart is a craft that improves with practice. What inspires your writing, that slice of life, is uniquely yours.

Book Clubs are great ways to satisfy all these goals. Library book clubs provide resources without a huge personal investment in money and permanent shelf space, should that be a problem, for all those books in your private collection.

My participation in multiple book clubs offered by the Davenport Public Library exposes me to titles and authors I wouldn’t pick for myself. They expanded my world as a reader and a writer. I always learn something new.

When the West End Book Club was in danger of being disbanded, I was loath to let it go. Fortunately, I was not alone. Several avid readers joined me in keeping it going. We scoured the Davenport library’s list of book club kits so we could continue to meet monthly, read new-to-us books without incurring any expense for us or the library. All we needed was a room to come together to talk and share our excitement about books.

As I said, we West Enders are a bunch of avid readers and after a year or so it became difficult to find new titles to fill our needs. What to do? Well, as it so happened, we needed to branch out.

When I walk through the Rock Island Public Library's first floor there’s no way to miss the boxes and boxes of book club kits. I inquired about checking them out and my first response was no because the library systems separated by the Mississippi went their respective ways a few years ago. Quite disappointing, but not terribly unexpected.

A RIPL librarian suggested that I try Bettendorf’s public library. I did and found a treasure trove of book club kits lined up and waiting to be checked out and delivered to any branch of the DPL system. “DIBS” stands for “Discussions in Boxes” and the choosing should be fun and super convenient for us West Enders. Great News!

In the meantime, I heard from RIPL’s Amy Sisul that there is a way for me as a DPL patron to check out up to ten books at a time. Ten books make up your average book club kit. More Great News!

The West End Book Club should be set up nicely for years to come.

The moral of this story is: Whether you are starting a book club, trying to save one like me, or just looking to join, remember the resources are many at our public libraries.

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