Library's Genre Book Club: All gushing, no shushing!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: we library folk want to talk about books with you. We absolutely do. But research shows that when people are looking for something new to read, librarians are your go-to only 19 percent of the time. Que pasa, y’all?
Perhaps you see us out shelving books in the stacks and you, considerate souls that you are, don’t want to bother us. Or maybe (I’ve been told) you’re concerned that we’ll judge what you’re reading (or not reading) and would rather poke around on your own, rather than risk getting librarian side-eye.
Let me assure you: we don’t judge. Truly. We are “imperfect” readers, too, who just want to have a bookish conversation with other readers. We like to laugh about truly awful romance covers that hide quite good content. We love hearing about that unusual book that changed your life. We are curious about why you don’t like the award-winning book everyone else seems to love. If you’re interested, we want to give you reading suggestions, too — in person and online.
At LPL, our mission in the Readers’ Services department, home of The Book Squad, is to connect people with the stories that enrich their lives. In order to do that, we review books and create reading lists in the LPL catalog.
We chat with you in the stacks, offer you a few books, and hope you’ll come back and let us know what you thought. We create personalized reading suggestions for you. We can even help your book club find their next read and supply the books in one handy bag.
One program we’ve started to encourage community conversations about reading is the Genre Book Club, which meets once a month. Our staff puts together a list of highly rated and representative books in a genre, and you call or email to request one or two of those books to try out. Then, on the second Sunday of the month, we sit around snacking and talking about what we read, what we thought, and learn more about the genre in general. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.
Genre Book Club is a way to discover something new, without making a huge time commitment. It can also be a great way to meet people who share your reading loves and swap suggestions for fresh reads. (Next month’s talk is on urban fantasy, an up-and-coming genre, at 2 p.m. Sept. 13.)
Genres can be a tidy way of understanding what you might expect overall from a story, a shorthand that there will be elements in this tale that speak to you as a reader. Genres, however, can sometimes draw artificial lines that people don’t cross. I will admit there are genres I thought I didn’t read… until I did.
Reading “The Martian” and “Ready Player One” taught me that I can find a compelling story in sci-fi, even though it wasn’t a place I spent much time. I’ve converted people who thought they didn’t like romance with authors Courtney Milan, Julia Quinn and Eloisa James.
If you haven’t read all the classics, we don’t care. (We probably haven’t, either.) If you haven’t read anything but cereal boxes or Facebook statuses for a while, that’s cool. We’ve been there. We’d love to help you.
Genre Book Club is a great way to meet authors and stories, and a nice way to meet your neighbor. Let your friendly LPL Book Squad member get you connected to a story that might enrich your life, a story that just might come from a section of the library you haven’t yet met.
— Polli Kenn is the Readers’ Services Coordinator at LPL. She likes being transported by story, historical romance, urban farming, women’s health, sociology, books about how or why, wit and wordplay, and twisty plots.