A new resource from ALA’s Public Programs Office is available for those whose book clubs need a little (or big) boost! Book Club Reboot-71 Creative Twists by Stephanie Saba and Sarah Ostman offers many creative and surprising ideas to help inspire book club organizers and leaders.
Saba is a community program supervisor at San Mateo County (Calif.) Libraries who has been working with book clubs of all types for many years now. As a committee member of ALA’s Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee, she developed the idea of a book for those who work with and coordinate book clubs. Ostman, communications manager of ALA’s Public Programs Office, was brought on board, as her experience as a journalist and freelance writer would make a good writing partner.
There are a lot of book clubs around, but the number is hard to pin down. In 2014, The New York Times estimated that 5 million people are part of a book club. I would guess that the number is even higher today, as celebrities and social media influencers have joined in the book club band wagon. In a recent report on book clubs by Bookbrowse.com, their survey responses revealed that 74% of book clubs were considered private while 26% were public with the majority of those meeting in public libraries.
After the green light was given to Saba and Ostman for this project, they then created a master timeline and set up a bi-weekly phone call schedule. Next up was to create a Survey Monkey with questions related to book clubs. This was sent out via their built-in communications channels and listservs. They received 250 submissions!
Ostman shared that “vetting through the submissions was a lot of work but very enjoyable. There were so many fun and creative ideas.” There were also some that were similar so the need to create sub-genres was necessary. In the end, they included 71 “twisty” ideas in their book, grouped in six categories.
Some of their favorites (you can read more about them in their book) include:
- The Boneyard Bookworms - They actually meet in a local cemetery and no surprise here; their book choices tend to feature death themes.
- The Bushwick Book Club Seattle, who perform original music inspired by the book club choice.
- The Autism Society of Minnesota, or AuSM (pronounced “awesome”) book club coordinated through the library and partners with a local special education teacher with expertise in autism.
I learned that not only has Saba had years of experience with different types of book clubs throughout her library career, but she and her mother have been reading and sharing books since her teens. She recalls some of her favorites have been The One and Only Ivan and Nicholas Sparks books. She said they still do this years later.
Ostman told me that she has attempted to get a girlfriend book club started, but has not had success. She said members would forget the meeting day and time and eventually would drop out. Or when they did meet, the conversation would go off track as no one took the role as the leader.
I know a good resource that I can highly recommend to you!