In chatting with Monica at River Falls, I found out about their YA for Adult Book Group. It sounded like such fun, I had to ask a few questions of Monica and Heather, two staffers who work with this book group.
Nancy Miller, our director, was inspired by the way the publishing industry in YA has been so strong while nearly every other area or genre has faced slagging sales. She began promoting the idea as kind of a “what is all the fuss about” book group. What we have been seeing, though is that a huge number of people who are reading “YA” books are adults – parents, teachers, and people who are connected to youth, yes, but also adults who are not at all connected to young people. My estimate is that nearly half of our circulation in this area comes from grown-ups.
How are you publicizing/promoting this group?
I have sent flyers about the group to all the schools in town to be either sent out to parents via email or handed out at conference or parent events. I have also tried to mention the group and talk it up to anyone who expresses an interest in YA books – which for me is a lot of parents.
What have you found to be especially worthwhile about this group?
I LOVE this group. I enjoy the depth of thought and connections that I have never considered. I have brought in books that I have loved and after the discussion seen them in a whole new light – learned to love them completely differently. I am astounded sometimes at the parallels that adults can draw between what is happening in the book and the outside world, history, media, cultures, even psychology.
High interest book clubs like this create positive publicity for the library. They strengthen the position of the library as not only an institution of traditional print materials, but also as a place that can create social connections in a facility that can meet the needs of a diverse community population.
Who is coming to the discussions?
Right now, it is a fairly small group – probably about 8 or 9 people – but a diverse one. Age ranges from early 20s to mid 60s. We get a few more men than women, but have not yet had only one gender represented. We seem to draw everyone from die-hard romance fans to hard-core sci-fi nerds to general fiction readers.
What books are you discussing? Which one has worked best so far?
The three staff running the group each take turns selecting the title for the month, and we try to choose books from a genre or sub-genre that we haven’t really talked about yet. We started with Hunger Games (dystopian), simply because of popularity, and then did Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver (paranormal), Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (realistic fiction/issues book), then Cinder by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi/fantasy). This month we are reading The Fault in our Stars by John Green (another issues book, but I couldn’t help myself), and in November we are scheduled to read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare as our nod to steampunk.
What else do you want to tell us?
Since we wanted to read popular books, we opted to purchase the titles, knowing that we would then own anywhere from 8 to 12 copies of a specific book when the club ended. We opted to take these copies and then convert them into Teen Book Club Kits – complete with the questions and any supplemental materials, such as read-alike lists or award lists. We hope to have the first of these kits put together and ready-to-circulate very soon.