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How I spent the month of April…

(The following article appeared in  May 2014 issue of The Book Club Insider.  The Book Club Insider is a Syosset Public Library newsletter sent out monthly to local book clubs that have become part of the library’s Register Your Book Club program.  For more information about Register Your Book Club, please call the Readers’ Services desk: 516 921-7161 Ext. 241.)

I’ve hit a rut.  We’ve all been there … you pick up book after book and nothing holds your interest for very long.  Ultimately, you pick up the TV remote and just stop reading for awhile.  My problem is not that the books are “bad” or boring.  I am reading too many of the same types of books.  And you may be too.

     Instead of sticking with my usual genres, I decided to mix it up and finally discovered how to extricate myself from that disheartening black hole of the reading rut.   I spent the month of April “Genre-Hopping” which can be described as purposely reading books from different genres, rather than my typical favorites, or jumping from genre to genre.

     Below are the books I read in April while Genre-Hopping.  All would make fabulous book discussion choices.  I encourage you and your reading group to try your own “Genre-Hopping” experiment.

Orange is the New BlackBiography/Memoir: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

“Follows the author’s incarceration for drug trafficking, during which she gained a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and met a varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances.”

While Beauty SleptHistorical Fantasy Fiction/ Fairy Tale Adaptation: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

“Reflecting on her long-ago service with a princess who fell under a sleeping curse, Elise remembers witnessing how events actually transpired and were connected to a secretive labyrinth of evil…A Gothic retelling of the story behind the legend of Sleeping Beauty.”

Block 11English Translation: Block 11 by Piero Degli Antoni (Translated from Italian)

“Two elderly survivors of Auschwitz recall the harrowing night when they and eight other prisoners were ordered to pick which of their number would be executed at dawn, a choice marked by shocking revelations and wrenching debates about which of them deserved to live or die.”

Five Days at MemorialNonfiction-Social Issues: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

“Reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina destroyed its generators to reveal how caregivers were forced to make life-and-death decisions without essential resources.”

Storied Life of A.J. FikryIndie Pick: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

“When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A.J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family, and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.”

 All summaries from the publishers.

– posted by Jackie, Readers’ Services

Book clubs: What to Read Next?

The following article first appeared in Syosset Public Library‘s monthly, Register Your Book Club – The Newsletter, on August 17, 2012. This monthly newsletter is available via email to book clubs who have registered with the library. Book Club registration benefits include:

  • Advance notice of new Book Club in a Bag titles
  • Priority book reservations
  • Discussion questions and other book info via email
  • Assistance with finding new members
  • Monthly Book Club newsletter
  • Prearranged pickup of your selected titles

Visit the Readers’ Services desk on the second floor to register your book club.

Register your Book Club – The Newsletter is available to the general public at all the library’s public desk’s two weeks after the registered members receive it.


With thousands of books from which to choose, this might seem like an easy question to answer. But quite a few books clubs would say that it’s not.  Methods used to find the next book to discuss are many.  Some groups have one person who always decides on which books will be read and some have all of their members decide together.  Other groups choose their books month by month while some set an agenda of books for a few months or a year ahead.  Still others just trust that one of their members will come with a ready suggestion for the next month that will be acceptable to all.  If the method that your book club is using has become monotonous or is not working well, your group might try one of the following ideas for use in scheduling the books to discuss in the months ahead:

Read a New Genre Each Month  Your club might be concentrating (some might call it stuck) on just a few genres that members feel comfortable with. Why not step outside of your group comfort zone and deliberately schedule titles that are outside of those genres?  If your group is mostly reading “Historical fiction”, try a Mystery, a Classic, a Science Fiction or  a Thriller. There are discussable books in every genre and enough genres in existence to not repeat one for months.

Tour the World  Your book club can choose books set in different countries or cities.  Or you can pick books by authors from other countries.  Perhaps you can stay in the United States and pick books set in different states.

Holiday or Seasonal  Choose books by a holiday occurring during the month or by season – a mystery with a Halloween theme for October or a historical set in a cold climate for Winter (or to cool down in Summer), a poetry book in April for National Poetry Month or a book set in a school or college for September.

Award Winners Pick titles that have been nominated for a major book award such as the National Book Award or Pulitzer Prize.  You might concentrate on one year and read books that won different awards for that year.


  • Pick titles just because they contain a certain word(s).
  • Use the alphabet: start with a book whose title or authors name begins with an A, then one beginning with a B and so on (or reverse it and start with Z).
  • Revisit authors whose books have led to the most interesting discussions and read another book by them.
  • Pick a profession and find a book whose main character is a memb

If your group is intrigued by any of the above ideas, the librarians at the Readers’ Services desk would be happy to help you explore the many resources available at the library to help you and your group choose  titles that will satisfy any situation.  Let us help you find books that are just right for the discussions of your group. – Sonia Grgas, Readers’ Services Librarian

-posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services