Local library reading group enjoys benefits offered by book groups
Almost a year ago, a group of local citizens gathered together at the Springfield Public Library for their first informal meet and greet, shared a few comments about the most recent book each had read, and made concrete plans for continued meetings which would be held on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the library and remain open to anyone in the community who wishes to join the group on a monthly basis.
Throughout the year, there has been a delightful mix of men and women from the Springfield area who enjoy coming together to both share ideas and listen to others’ thoughts about what all have just read. The result has been good community fellowship, a push to finish a book and discuss it in a non-stressful setting, and the opportunity to understand new perspectives of writers, styles and individuals from different cultures and backgrounds. In fact, a recent Idaho State University online blogger, Stephanie Bachman, emphasized those very qualities as benefits of belonging to a book club. In addition, she emphasizes the special health benefits that reading groups can provide, pointing to increased cognitive ability for members as they age.
“I love the fact that we are reading books that I would not normally pick up to read. I have found them all to be excellent choices and am extremely grateful someone recommended reading them,” explains Head Librarian Linda Roiger. Titles, authors, and genres vary as suggested by individual members. For example, Roiger suggested the first book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, for the group’s first book discussion last April. The story centered on the French Resistance during WWII. A Minnesota regional author’s book, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens was suggested for May by another group member, and the meeting was followed by a visit from the author. Genres of selected books vary, and the group has read historical fiction (Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks), an autobiography (Worth the Waiting For by John McCain), a short story (A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote) and the group enjoyed an evening of poetry with favorite poems provided by participants. One satisfied member specifically referenced that meeting when she explained, “I did not think a meeting on poetry could be so enjoyable because poetry is NOT something I read.” Rounding out the list of books read during the year are Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, and The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd.
Often, group members have suggested that they especially enjoy the fact that a book suggestion was one that they may not have read on their own, but as a choice for the month, it was still an important book to read. In addition, a group discussion allows readers to add insight and think about what they have read in a new or different way. One regular attendee stated, “I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to our book club gatherings each month! I appreciate the variety of books that are selected … books that I may not have chosen on my own. I appreciate the different opinions and viewpoints that are shared by our members, ones that I may not have considered when reading a particular book. It is really fun to hear how words, prose, and symbolism can be interpreted so differently. There is no right or wrong answer, just various ways of looking at the same story.”
Several of the group’s participants recognized the opportunity to forge relationships with other community members in addition to sharing thoughts and opinions about the books in a non- judgmental setting, and one reader explained that “it is a very informative and fun group that shares the love of reading a good book.” Another reader suggested that she especially enjoyed the visiting time prior to the book discussion. Several other members provided praise for the local library, its staff, and the amenities it provides to our local community. “Linda organizes the book club, orders the books for us to read each month through the library system, keeps track of our monthly programs, and ensures that the group discussion ends after exactly one hour,” stated one reader, while another expressed her satisfaction with the book group and the service that our local library provides: “I get to read a new book that I’ve never heard of, and I’m part of a community who loves to read and discuss.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.