Book Groupies: Book Groups, Pageturners, Engagement

“Who picks these books!?” That could be a question someone asks about In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This well-written classic true crime stands up to the tests of time, but the violence can be a turnoff for some. When it comes to book groups, such as our library’s Pageturners groups, a great book for discussion is not necessarily liked by all.

As a facilitator my response to that question is, “I’m glad you asked. Let me give you the inside scoop.” In May, Pageturners book groups are busy picking their books for the next calendar year, which begins in September. Most groups pick by gathering votes from regular attendees, or, as I like to say, book groupies. Books on the ballot come from recommendations by groupies, awards lists, book news, and discussions with other facilitators. My little secret: my nominations include books that I hope to read, but won’t get around to unless my group reads them.

I thought I’d share with you a few books that have already been read by Pageturners book groups, but are likely to make another appearance on a group’s list sometime soon, like In Cold Blood. Many people first come to a group for a book they like, but keep returning for the books they might not otherwise read. Perhaps you’ll catch the bug and attend a Pageturners book group near you...there’s nothing like that aha moment when a book’s deeper intentions are revealed through lively and thoughtful discussion.

The Sisters Brothers  by local author Patrick deWitt captures the craziness of the gold rush era along with a complex relationship between brothers who navigate an odyssey through that 1850s underworld. Who knows, perhaps some enterprising facilitator will persuade the author to join their discussion.

You might think this collection is for children, but a revisit to The Jungle Books in adulthood will introduce you to the stellar writing of Kipling, and your more sophisticated awareness will pick up on the global politics of an Imperial era. Nancy, the facilitator of the St. John's Pageturners, shared all kinds of show and tell...maps, pictures of animals, plants, the author, and more.

This year, seven Pageturners groups readThe Warmth of Other Suns  by Isabel Wilkerson. It will certainly be a choice in the next year as well. It is about the “Great Migration” - the large movement of blacks from the South to the North and West from the time of WWI to the seventies. The story follows the lives of three people, making it very readable, while it bursts with rarely encountered historical facts.
Patricia, administrator of North Portland Library and Pageturners facilitator, said, “Though my family participated in the "migration,"the book still put things in perspective and explained a lot, like why my highly educated, architect uncle decided to move from Baltimore to California. The book just helped make sense of so much.”

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