Get Together and Read

You might not know it, but October is National Reading Group Month. Strangely enough, people all over the country like to get together and discuss the books they have read.  Haven’t you ever finished a great book and wished that you could talk to someone about it? With the Internet available 24/7, it’s now easier to go to a web site like or someone’s blog and leave a comment or a review.  But somehow that’s just not the same as having a face to face conversation, with give and take and a real sharing of ideas and opinions.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh conducts several book discussion groups on a variety of topics. One or more of them would appeal to you, I’m sure.  We have a poetry discussion group – 3 Poems By…, a science book club – Black Holes, Beakers and Books, contemporary fiction – Books in the Afternoon  (which actually meets twice – once in the afternoon and once in the evening), Dish! A Foodie Book Club, Mystery Book Group  (self explanatory), spiritual book club – Pathfinders, as well as two collaborative book clubs – Bound Together with the Carnegie Museum of Art which explores the connections between literature and art, and our newest book group – the Pittsburgh Symphony Book Club, a partnership between CLP, WQED-FM, and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

But maybe you’d like to start your own book discussion group in your own neighborhood with people you already know.  The library can help you here too. We have many resources for organizing book groups, including recommendations on what you might read.

The New York Public Library Guide to Reading Groups by Rollene Saal – A nice introduction with brief sections on recruiting members, how to lead a good discussion, and making the best use of the resources available at your public library!

The Book Club Companion by Diana Loevy – In addition to touching on the same start-up topics as the book above, this guide expands its offerings to theme parties, suggested field trips, and recipes to serve at your meetings.  Because, as well all know, people are much more likely to show up if there’s food.

Reading with Oprah by Kathleen Rooney – Love her or hate her, you have to admit Oprah’s gotten people to read in staggering numbers – people who might not have been reading before. This book traces the history of the book club, its ending and then rebirth, as well as discussions of selected books.

The Kids’ Book Club Book by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp – It’s not only adults who like to read and talk about books. In addition to organization information, this fabulous guide gives book recommendations divided by grade ranges. These suggestions include craft and activity ideas and recipes to help plan a fun evening for kids of all ages.

A Year of Reading by Elisabeth Ellington and Jane Freimiller – This book has a chapter and a theme for each month of the year: scary stories for October, women and family for May, and heartwarming classics for December.

1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron – No matter what you are looking for, this book can help.  There are categories for everything from “For a Good Laugh”, “For a Good Cry”, and “To Remember Dear Ol’ Dad” all the way to “Blame Your Genes”, “For a Kick in the Pants”, “For Revenge”, and “To Run Away from Home”. You will find something to fit your current frame of mind.

Book Lust and More Book Lust both by Nancy Pearl – The ultimate librarian, Nancy Pearl, recommends books for you. (Seriously, she is THE iconic librarian. So much so that she is the model for an action figure.)  No matter what topic you desire, “Ecofiction”, “Lost Weekends”, “Space Operas”, or “Elvis on My Mind”, she has a book suggestion that fills the need.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter what, where, with whom, or how you do it, just read!


P.S.  Remember to keep up the fight for your libraries, their hours, and staff.  Check out CLP’s advocacy web page  for ways you can help. 

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” –Anne Herbert


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2 responses to “Get Together and Read

  1. Last night at the Drue Heinz Lecture, author Paul Theroux spoke about the importance of the library in the life of his family and how he is always able to connect with his boys (now grown men) in conversation about what they are reading. He said books can change lives and that talking about books can give you a deeper understanding of yourself and others. BTW a wonderful online database source for book groups is Novelist, which recommends great books and provides discussion questions.

  2. Thanks for the NoveList plug, Sheila, and for the scoop on the lecture!


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