Between The Covers | VailDaily.com

Between The Covers

Pick a book, gather a few friends and voila — a book club is born

»By Heather Hower »photos By dominique taylor

Book clubs are a great way to make new friends, reconnect with old friends, read authors you might otherwise snub your nose at and learn about other cultures. Finding, or creating, a group can lead to backpacking trips, film festivals, decades-long friendships and vibrant discussions. Reading is usually solitary, so how do you go about finding a thought-provoking book for a heated discussion?

A book that teaches a new custom or region of the world, or has "a conflict that some people feel differently about so you can have two points of view," suggests Karin Barker. She's worked at The Bookworm of Edwards for almost six years and has been in a book club since 1990.

Independent bookstores are a great place to find the next influential novel, or check out the local library. The librarians are knowledgeable and ready to lend a hand, title or book bag.

“It got me thinking that a social group with reading as its core might be a fun way to get Michaela interested in reading more.” Kelly Mitchell

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"We have 'It's in the Bag,'" a book-club kit with user's guide for the book club leader, ten copies of a book, a reader's guide, discussion questions, author bio and whatever we find that is relevant for the person leading the discussion," says Amy Gornikiewicz, collection specialist at the Avon Public Library, which is part of the Eagle Valley Library District with branches in Gypsum, Eagle and Avon. Really — a library card offers these privileges and access.

The libraries all host book clubs and everyone's welcome. The reads vary from what's popular to what's available to what interests the participants. The clubs held at libraries tend to stay a little more focused with a diverse group of readers having a lively conversation.

On the other hand, there are many fun ways to incorporate a book into the club setting: some meet for coffee and discussion, some do potlucks on the theme of the book, some are coed, some focus on historical fiction or only non-fiction. Sometimes wine gets in the way and other times the point of book club is wine and dine.

"One really interesting (book club approach) has only the host reading a book, and they have to give an hour talk on the book," Barker reveals. "It has to be pretty detailed and specific. It sounds like a lot of work and it's a little bit different. Some groups talk only about books they've read; some groups, they've all not read the same books. The ones that seem to be most successful and together the longest are where the people read the book and have a good discussion."

Kelly Mitchell, Brush Creek Elementary School librarian, started a mother-daughter book club years ago and it's still reading. The book club came about with a small group of girls reading in the hallway during school.

"I started the book club when my daughter, Michaela, now 16, was in second grade. She was not a great reader, did not love it, but loved having books read to her. The teacher asked me to take a group of girls into the hallway and to help with a reading group. We had each girl read a paragraph as we went around the circle. The girls seemed to really enjoy it. It got me thinking that a social group with reading as its core might be a fun way to get Michaela interested in reading more."

Intentionally selecting people who wanted to read – not just hang out – the six moms and six daughters are still reading strong 8 years later. The group met monthly from second through eighth grades but when the girls entered high school, the scheduling got tight. They still meet, just not as regularly.

"The girls have formed a bond unlike any other friendship. Even though they do not always socialize in school, they have an incredible friendship that has lasted and grown stronger with time. The moms also have become great friends. There have been backpacking trips and sleepovers with the group. Once a year it becomes a father/daughter book club. We always try to make it happen and will until we are old and gray!"

Similarly, the "Book Ends" is a book club that has been meeting (and reading) for 20 years. As with any successful organization, there are a few guidelines and a format: a reader picks the month she will host and selects the book.

"When it's your turn to host, you choose the book — that is the most nerve-racking part," says Tracy Van Curen. "Our book club is very cerebral: We like the tough topics, we like the literature, we may not love the book but we love the writing. So we embrace the more challenging books."

Which leads to another topic: Does your group want to read mostly fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, or a little bit of all? You don't have to limit yourself, but it's good to know what your group is interested in. The best "rule" to follow is that everyone actually reads the book — even if someone strongly dislikes the characters or the storyline. After all, that leads to a lively discussion. So open a book and climb in.

Good Reads

Great books for a mother-daughter group

Gooney Bird Green

The Hundred Dresses

Magik

11 Birthdays

12 Again

Tiger Rising

Tracks in the
Snow (Bledsoe)

Omnivore’s

Dilemma YA version

Stones into

Schools YA version