Shelf indulgence: Vail Valley book clubs allow readers to expand perspectives
Special to the Daily
Reading can spark imagination, open up perception and stimulate conversation — especially within book clubs.
Books clubs help build a sense of community while expanding a participant’s worldview. Since the pandemic, book clubs have been meeting on Zoom, allowing second-home owners and other friends and family who don’t live in Eagle County year-round to join from out of state. For example, Vail Public Library’s Books ‘n’ Bites club has about 23 members — about 10 regulars — from as far as Kentucky, California and North Dakota.
“It gives people a sense of community,” said Lori Barnes of the Vail Public Library.
Eagle Valley’s teen and middle school book clubs began meeting outdoors a couple months ago to provide more in-person interaction for kids, and librarians plan on transitioning adult clubs outdoors in June, in a socially distanced manner. They’re also considering starting a districtwide virtual book club, since the Zoom meetings drew so many adults from out of state.
For those who don’t prefer to sit around and talk, Vail Public Library offers a walking book club in the summer, where people walk and talk about a specific book every second Friday of the month. In the winter, they meet at the top of Vail Mountain to ski, snowboard and talk about the book on gondola rides.
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In addition to a love for reading and a desire for community, people join book clubs to widen their perspectives and knowledge.
“The library book club, as compared to private book clubs, is an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones,” said Gwen Scalpello, a Vail Public Library book club member. “The diversity of the group allows you to expand your perspectives on the book as you listen to the different opinions and perspectives on the book and its discussion questions — not to mention I have a wonderful time with a group of intelligent ladies who are just plain fun to be with.”
According to Eagle Valley Library District’s book club survey, readers enjoy exposure to different genres and topics. Sometimes, clubs invite outside experts to talk; when Vail Public Library’s Books ‘n’ Bites read “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson, Beaver Divers came to share their underwater adventures.
“People say they read a lot of books that they wouldn’t have read,” said Amy Gornikiewicz, the collection developer and readers advisory librarian in Avon. “Most books that lend themselves well to book clubs have some kind of issue that people end up learning about from the book or others’ experiences and opinions.”
Librarians try to balance lighter books with deeper social issues and award-winning titles that will appeal to a variety of readers, she said.
“It gets people out of their comfort zone,” Barnes said.
And, for kids, book clubs improve reading skills in a setting outside of classrooms. They also allow middle schoolers and high schoolers to share their opinions.
“They can be honest about it — what worked, what they didn’t like,” said Nick Dawson, teen services librarian in Eagle.
One Book, One Valley
In addition to book clubs, the annual One Book, One Valley community program invites all residents to read the same book at the same time. The program encourages literacy and gathers residents together for a six- to eight-week series of thought-provoking events related to a specific book. This year’s book is “Lab Girl,” a memoir revolving around the outdoors, sustainability and an author with bipolar disorder.
“It resonated with men and women and people of all ages,” Barnes said.
Whether it’s a one-off commitment through One Book, One Valley or a monthly book club, socializing with other people who love reading can be quite fulfilling.
“There’s just nothing like coming together and discussing a book,” Gornikiewicz said. “We end up brining in so many different experiences and being exposed to so much.”
Where: Vail Public Library
When: Second Wednesday of the month via Zoom
Contact: Lori Barnes at email@example.com for an invitation to the monthly Books ‘n’ Bites.
June book: “Sweet tooth” by Ian McEwan
Note: The library also has a walking book club in the summer and a skiing book club in the winter.
Where: Avon Public Library
When: Third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm.
June book: “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman
Where: Eagle Public Library
When: Fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.
June book: “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri
Where: Gypsum Public Library
When: First Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m.
June book: “Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane
Spanish speaking: Club De Lectura En Español via Facetime
When: First Wednesday of the month; El club de lectura se reunirá en la Biblioteca Pública de Gypsum at 5:30 p.m.
What: Teen and Middle School book clubs
When: Hosted by Eagle Public Library, first Tuesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. for middle schoolers and first Tuesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. for high schoolers.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-328-8800