Tag Archives: Book groups

Fragments and foments for the 4th

That which distinguishes this day from all others is that then both orators and artillerymen shoot blank cartridges. ~John Burroughs

This wry observation on the forthcoming Fourth of July inspires random thoughts and a dip into the scattered notes that don’t quite sum to a cogent theme – or post.  Thinking that some may be of interest – and that the 4th is about more than parades and fireworks I share the some of those notes in hopes they spark some flickers for folks who are enjoying a long holiday weekend… It seems to me a legitimate alibi to share a few of the virtual “pokes” that have yet to make it to the blog. Their time has come….

Since you may be house-bound over the holiday, you might want to think about actually doing some research on the history of your home. Just last week  Greta Kaul, writing in MinnPost offered some basic tips and starting points – find the article here:  https://www.minnpost.com/data/2017/06/what-public-records-can-tell-you-about-history-your-house   What the journalist failed to mention is that the staff of Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library  has sponsored several excellent workshops on the topic in recent months.  There’s one more Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home session scheduled for Saturday, August 5, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Roosevelt Library.

Thinking about starting or joining a book group?  The South Dakota Humanities Commission has a new and very useful guide.  http://sdhumanities.org/media/blog/how-do-you-start-a-book-club.

Feel like learning a bit more about our neighbors to the West?  Renowned North Dakota poet Tom McGrath sets the tone in this video produced some years ago by the Center for International Education (Mike Hazard) (http://www.thecie.org/mcgrath/). The Movie at the End of the World: Thomas McGrath is on YouTube Movie at the End, a lovely introduction – or reminder – of the poet and his North Dakota roots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABDUGe2kGNs

As long as you’ve let your mind wander a bit, check out The Ephemera Society of America, Inc. (ephemerasociety.org) Located in Cazenovia, New York, the national organization pays attention to all of the little stuff the rest of us don’t even notice.  Though the website is a bit quixotic, ephemera do not categorize easily – and that’s the fun of it!  Relax and wander freely through the world of ephemera!  The local authority on the Ephemera Society of America is author and intrepid researcher Molly (Moira) Harris

For some time I’ve been following the work of Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (http://www.brycs.org) a project of the Migration and Refugee Services at the US Conference of Bishops.  The BRYCS website and clearinghouse does a great job of sharing elusive information on practices, studies, events, interview with immigrant youth and more.   Try dipping in to learn more about whatever it is you want to know more about.

Earlier this week this timely piece popped up on the email.  Its value lies in the fact that it suggests an inclusive definition of food chain workers while underscores the ways in which women forge essential links in the food chain.  https://foodtank.com/news/2016/01/women-we-love-27-influential-women-in-food-and-agriculture/

In the spirit of the 4th, take time to check out this short read.  It’ll make you think: https://www.reddit.com/r/shutupandwrite/comments/6k2fyn/article_patriot_hasnt_always_been_positive_words/

We need an American with the wisdom of experience. But we must not let America grow old in spirit – Hubert H Humphrey

Passionate Readers Regroup during National Reading Group Month

As autumn settles in and the world settles down, serious readers regroup.   Passionate readers begin to hear the resonant voice of a debut author; they prowl the indie bookstores, comb the alternative media for book fairs and readings, check the library for what’s forthcoming in their genre-of-choice.  Soon will come the crucial gathering of the minds when The Book Club will choose The Book, the tome that will ignite the group to delve into the syntax, symbolism and significance of a shared read.

For this reason October is the chosen month for bibliophiles to unite their literary forces in celebration of National Reading Group Month (NRGM)!

True confession: I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a Reading Group. In one respect, this post is cathartic, a way to assuage the guilt that haunts me and leaves me in the literary shadows.  Still, since legitimate bibliophiles are busy reading, interpreting and discussing The Book, I feel some responsibility to offer an objective report on the mission and events of National Reading Group Month.

The prime mover behind NRGM is Women’s National Book Association (WNBA), which initiated the idea in October 2007 as the capstone of their 70th anniversary celebration.  Focus on reading groups is just one of the WNBA’s efforts to foster the values of reading groups: “camaraderie, enjoyment of shared reading, and appreciation of literature and reading as conduits for transmitting culture and advancing civic engagement.”

Minnesota readers may find themselves in the role of observers of NRGM.  In spite of the state’s countless book groups, we are not an identified “chapter” of NWBA.  At this writing there are chapters in Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, LA, Nashville, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

In the inclusive spirit of a reading world that transcends geography, this detail should not discourage Minnesota book groups from joining the celebration.

One place to catch the wave is to check the list of titles identified as Great Group Reads.  The recommendations, made by WNBA in partnership with Book Group Buzz, (http://bookgroupbuzz.booklistonline.com)reflect a clearly stated bias; according to Rosaline Reinder, Selection Coordinator of the Great Group Reads list, titles are chosen because they are “lively, thought-provoking, and diverse, strong narratives peopled by fully realized characters, that will help passionate readers find those great gems of mid-list fiction and nonfiction that may be overlooked in the clamor over the bestsellers.”  The 21-title list is online at http://www.nationalreadinggroupmonth.org/ggr_selections.html

As might be expected in a region noted for its literacy Minnesota’s cities and towns teem with book groups.  The number and nature of these circles of literary activity is fluid, ephemeral, and incalculable in the extreme.  Still the honest efforts that have been made, suggest the universe.  The local CBS outlet dared to identify the “Best Book Clubs to Join in the Twin Cities;” They came up with profiles of just five.  (http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-book-clubs%5Bto-join-in-the-twin-cities/) . MinnPost produced a statewide inventory and brief profiles of local groups in 2010-2011 (http://www.minnpost.com/sites/default/files/asset/9/9gvzs1/9gvzs1.pdf)

There are meet-up book groups organized by geography, genre, ambience of the meeting site.  Many public libraries and independent bookstores keep files and know a lot about the book clubs they serve.

What’s new in reading groups?  The Reblog Book Club, purported to be first official Tumblr book club.  They’re currently reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  They’ve had two sessions so far and will be meeting again the week of October 1 to discuss plot developments.  Participants in the Tumblr sessions are encouraged to express their feelings about the book however they wish, “in a written review, fan art, gifs, poems, letters, or whatever.”  Tumblr-philes can contribute by posting their own Tumblr blog and tagging the post #reblogbookclub, or submit directly to the book club Tumblr at http://reblogbookclub.tumblr.com/submit