Toss out those dogeared, water-stained beach reads. It's time to reconnect and talk of ... well, summer beach reads, among other things. No better way to get your head moving again than to share sips, treats and book talk. Doubtless some July and August choices will become selections for the reading year. My own recommendations to the Off-Track Bookies will be Colum McCann's "This Side of Brightness" and "The Orchardist" by Amanda Coplin.
To help "sell" your suggestion, bring along a copy of the book and print out a little information about it; you won't have much time to push your choice, so make it count. If you are really strong on a book, you might consider e-mailing information to group members a few days before the meeting.
Large groups are more tricky; many have a lead person on the process, like the librarian or group leader. Send your recommendation to them; it helps.
Not all groups choose a whole season at once. Ours breaks it up into increments, and some groups go month to month, allowing for flexibility as well as keeping up with books new to the market.
If you are new to the idea and want to find out if a book club is right for you, start at the library, where you can get the book readily and there's a librarian there to guide the discussion.
Alternatively, if you think you'd like to start a group, contact friends (or coworkers you can stand) and invite them. You can also seek out people interested in a special writer or topic (you may have to list the group on www.meetup.com or at special interest meeting places—colleges, coffee shops, newsletters—to find similar souls). Then, dig up books about or by that author/topic. You can also post your prospective group on library bulletin boards, among your Facebook friends or in a community listing with the local newspaper and town website. Meetup.com is another handy place to find like-minded readers.
Meet at a book store, library or restaurant for starters, until the group sorts itself out. After that, consider home meetings if that's a group preference. Do NOT take advantage of a bookstore or coffee house without buying a little something from them. It's thoughtless and cheap.
To keep your new group going, set up ground rules for smoother meetings: no crosstalk or talking over others, no dominating the conversation; give everyone a chance to speak; try not to repeat what others have said, and stay on topic. Finally, respect other people's opinions. Failing to do these things will lose you members.
Wanted: By the way, if you would be so kind as to share your season's picks with us, I'd love to list them in a "what we're reading for 2014-15" column. E-mail me to the address at the bottom of the column.
This is also a GREAT time to update your meeting info and contacts for "Read It and Reap," as I often reach out to group members for feedback on issues related to book groups and reading. Again, e-mail me as below!
Correction: I erred in a mention of the Speaking Volumes book group last month. The group does not broadcast on WICM 90.5; it uses the sub-carrier of WICN's signal to broadcast. Listeners can catch broadcasts on special radios supplied by the group or on Public Access TV in many towns throughout Worcester County (channel 12 in Worcester). Others may want to listen through the group's website, www.audiojournal.net.
The C.S. Lewis Society promotes exploration of ideas from science, the arts, culture, and everyday life as they intersect with what C.S. Lewis famously dubbed “mere Christianity.” Its objective is to facilitate engaging discussion and reflection of topics of enduring value for Christians and non-Christians alike. All are welcome. To learn more, visit www.lewisma.org. Steven Barrett will facilitate the 9:15 a.m. session Saturday, Sept. 13 on the first half of "Miracles" in Auburn Public Library, 369 Southbridge St. A second meeting, on the second half, is on Sept. 27, same time.
Meanwhile, Auburn Public Library's Evening Book Discussion Group will consider "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.
Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner will host its next book group meeting at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 24. Topic is "The Orchardist" by Amanda Coplin, a beautifully written novel about losses and unconditional love in a family created by hardship and need. New members are welcome; for details, call Ann Young at 978 632 7638
Several events happen in September at Leominster Public Library. The Brown Bag Book Discussion group will discuss Kristin Hannah's "Winter Garden," noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4, in the meeting room. Readers may drop by; contact the library to borrow a copy of the book. At 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28, author Stephen Puleo will speak about his book, "The Caning: The Assault that Drove American to Civil War." Puleo wrote about a congressman's attack on Sen. Charles Sumner—an incident that dissolved any pretense of civility between the South and the North on the slavery debate. The session is free; no pre-registration needed. Lastly, the Evening Book Group meets from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 29, to discuss Geraldine Brooks' "March," which follows the absent father in Louisa Mae Alcott's "Little Women" as he leaves his family to join the Union cause. Chris Cormier Hayes will lead that discussion. Request a copy of the book at the library's reference desk or online through the library's catalogue. For info, contact Edward Bergman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Douglas Library Book Group will consider Ray Raphael's "The First Amendment Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord" at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 9. In the years before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, local people took control over their own destinies, overturning British authority and declaring themselves free from colonial oppression, with acts of rebellion that long predated the Boston Tea Party. In rural towns such as Worcester, democracy set down roots well before the Boston patriots made their moves in the fight for independence. Call the library 508-476-2695 for a copy of the book. New members welcome. Refreshments inspired by the title will be served.
The Women's Issues Book Club in Worcester has selected "The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent for its Sept. 8 topic. The author, a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier (who was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692), personalizes the witchcraft trials in a fictional account.
In West Brookfield, members of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library book group will discuss “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Meeting is at 4 p.m., Sept. 25. Call (508) 867-1410 for more information.
Northborough Free Library's Monday Evening Book Group has slated "Death Comes to Pemberley" by P.D. James on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. The Friday Morning Book Group meets at 10 a.m., Sept. 12, to discuss "The Education of Henry Adams," by Henry Adams. This self-described "eclectic book group" considers contemporary fiction, nonfiction and classic fiction. Members also serve tea and the occasional dessert. The group selects books at the November meeting. "We vote and compile a list of 12 books to be read for the ensuing year—four in each genre," said Marie E. Nieber, facilitator. "Books scheduled to be read for the upcoming month are on hand at the library a month ahead of time."