More book clubs wining and dining
LitLounge, a book club from the Skokie and Morton Grove public libraries, discusses "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn at The Curragh Irish Pub Jan. 15. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
The Social Book Discussions
LitLounge, from the Morton Grove and Skokie libraries, meets on the third Tuesday of every month at Curragh Irish Pub, 8266 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. www.facebook.com/skokielitlounge.
Book Bites, from the the Glenview and Niles libraries, meets every first Thursday of the month at the Glenview House, 1843 Glenview Road, Glenview. www.facebook.com/nilesglenviewbookbites
Books on Tap, from the Northbrook Public Library, meets every other month at the Landmark Inn Bar & Grill, 1352 Shermer Road, Northbrook. www.northbrook.info.
Updated: February 5, 2013 1:28PM
Libraries are going a more nontraditional route with some of their new book clubs.
Rather than gathering around a table in a meeting room, the clubs are becoming more relaxed and social — meeting at restaurants or bars and covering materials that are a bit edgier.
Five area libraries run these social discussions: LitLounge from the Morton Grove and Skokie libraries; Book Bites from the Glenview and Niles libraries; and Books on Tap from the Northbrook Public Library.
“Part of the reason we do programs like this is to cater to working adults who aren’t using the library yet or don’t want to necessarily drink decaf coffee and eat cookies while they talk about books,” said Books on Tap’s Leah White, a reader services librarian at Northbrook Public Library. “They can order some nachos, order wine or beer, then talk about a book.”
By having the discussion outside of the library, Book Bites’ Cecilia Cygnar, an AV & Fiction librarian at the Niles Public Library District, said people feel more relaxed and the discussions are more casual.
“People can have a drink. People can have dinner,” she said. “Just being able to have a glass of water, it’s a different atmosphere.”
The book selections are less traditional, too, and have been described as “quirky,” “offbeat” or “contemporary” by the clubs’ respective moderators.
“We’re not going to read The Help or The Paris Wife,” said LitLounge’s Amita Lonial, Skokie Public Library’s adult services program coordinator. “We look for titles that will appeal to a younger demographic.”
Some of the recent titles selected for discussion include Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt and The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
“We choose books that are less conventional, a little less mainstream, and try to get a different population in who like reading all kinds of fiction and nonfiction,” Cygnar said.
Depending on the interest of the book, the clubs can have anywhere from 10 to 20 people at each meeting.
“We have such an awesome group that our job (as moderators) is really easy,” said LitLounge’s Debra Wischmeyer, a reader services librarian with Morton Grove Library. “People bring questions to the table. It’s pretty casual, not a formal book discussion. The group really participates and leads the discussion.”
An an informal, more social, group like this allows group members to make connections with people they wouldn’t normally talk to.
“How often does a guy in his 20s talk with a woman in her 60s? Never, unless they’re mother and son,” White said.
The librarians agree that these book discussions are about more than just the books.
“So many people come and say how important (the club) is to them and their social life,” White said. “You kind of create this safe space; it’s still a library-run program. There’s a sense of legitimacy, a legitimate purpose to hanging out. In these groups in particular, it’s about the social interactions that happen around the book.”