Recently, while thinking of which book I should choose to schedule for my next book discussion at the Syosset Public Library, I began to reminisce about the books that I have done in the past. While I would say that I have enjoyed most of those discussions, there have been some that stand out for me. Here are some of the books that inspired some great discussion experiences for myself and some of my fellow librarians. You might consider trying one for a meeting of your own.
My favorite book discussion was for The Lost Legends of New Jersey by Frederick Reiken. The reason was because of the extremes of the reaction to it. One patron walked in and immediately said in an angry tone – “who picked this book and why would you pick it” – she just didn’t relate to it at all. On the other hand, during the discussion someone was reduced to tears because she said the book was “such a gift to her”. I will never forget that discussion.
–Lisa Caputo, Assistant Library Director
My two favorite book discussions over the years (because I cannot choose just one) have been To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I was so impressed with the insight and enthusiasm demonstrated by the attendees. I was grateful to see that our members felt as passionately about these two novels as I do. Whether they enjoyed the novels or not, our most vocal members all agreed on the importance of these novels in American Literature.
– Jackie Ranaldo, Head of Readers’ Services
I would have to say that my most memorable book discussion was Room by Emma Donoghue. The compelling subject matter really struck patrons emotionally. When I outlined the dimensions of the fictional 11 x 11 ft. “room” in masking tape in the center of our book discussion circle, the entire room went silent. We continued to stare at this small space as we tried to imagine a young woman and her son spending 7 years of their life confined to this “room” with no outside contact.
–Lisa Jones, Readers’ Services Librarian
I think my favorite discussion that I’ve led so far would be The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I enjoyed leading the discussion with Jackie because it was a discussable book, it made you wonder if this could happen in the future and the research that I found for the book was quite interesting. There are actually some real life spiritual/religious groups based on the religion Octavia Butler created in the book.
–Stacey Levine, Readers’ Services Librarian
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the book that generated my favorite and best discussion. The fact that I had never read it before was in large part responsible for this. I was expecting something worthwhile but dull. To my amazement, I found it to be thoroughly compelling and was eager to talk about it. We had a big turnout for the meeting as well as an interesting and lively discussion. I do not remember anyone having anything but good things to say about this classic novel.
-Sonia Grgas, Reference Librarian
This article first appeared in the April 2014 issue of Syosset Public Library’s newsletter, Book Club Insider.
– posted by Sonia, Reference Services