Wallingford has five. Meriden has two, as does Southington. Cheshire has three. We’re talking about the wide range of book clubs offered at local public libraries this month. In a world chock full of easy distractions, it’s a pleasant surprise to learn that librarians are hearing that people want more book clubs with more variety to suit their interests. Librarians are responding by increasing those options.
Public libraries certainly have evolved from a quiet repository of books, with rooms for research and study carrels. While those services still exist, serving as a community hub, a technology resource and even as a shelter of sorts at times, have become significant aspects of how a library is used.
With all those demands on a modern library, it’s good to see that encouraging and supporting the community in developing their reading interests remains an active part of the mission. It’s noteworthy that library patrons are driving some of the development of these new book clubs, some with a specific focus.
A recent Record-Journal story by reporter Jessica Simms looked into the many ways area libraries are keeping up with readers’ needs. In response to readers’ interest in tackling a longer more complex work, Wallingford’s readers’ advisory librarian Cindy Haiken is offering a new program, the Hibernation Book Club.
People in the Classics Book Club wanted, “Something really big and complicated and (to) break it down into sections,” Haiken said in an interview with Simms. Based on a survey of the classics club members, the 900 page “Middlemarch” by George Eliot is first up on the club’s reading list for the new Hibernation spin-off.
Readers can be intimidated by a weighty book, Haiken said, and breaking it down with the group can help make for a better experience and open new possibilities.
Wallingford’s library offers three other book clubs: the Mystery Book Club; the Thursday Night Book Club; and the Truth Be Told, nonfiction book club.
Meriden Public Library has two book clubs launching this month, What’s Next and the BookTok Book Club. The latter gives a social media twist to the activity. The club discusses books that have trended on social media, including TikTok and Instagram. Open to all, the club is geared toward younger people with its innovative merging of platforms.
At Southington Public Library, the Historical Fiction Book Club is an option as is the Reading with Pride book club. This club discusses LGBTQIA+ books and gives members a chance to connect with others.
Building community through book clubs may be a less obvious objective of these activities, but it certainly does offer an opportunity to meet others with similar interests.
Cheshire Public Library offers Books Over Coffee, Books Over Cocoa and Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club. As always, whodunnits remain a popular read.
Cheshire’s selection this month, for the two non-mystery clubs, is a nod to the travails of the season: “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”, by Katherine May.
Books Over Cocoa was conceived specifically as an evening group, giving working people a chance to participate in a reading adventure, too.
Books open up new worlds and adventures, these libraries are working to make sure those opportunities will serve many different needs and interests.