Monday, September 14, 2009

Creating a Reading List

People always wonder how we choose the books we read for book club. My book club is a bit different than most. While we do have a group of regulars the club is open to everyone who works in the library. We make an effort to read from a number of different genres to encourage people who might only want to read their favorite genres to join us for a meeting or two. We also allow everyone to help us choose the books we read. Here's how:

We begin with a list of categories. The categories vary a bit from round to round. These are the eleven categories we're using this time:
- Biographies & Memoirs
- Classics and Contemporary Classics
- General Fiction (non-genre)
- General Nonfiction
- Graphic Novels
- Historical Fiction
- Mystery/Thriller/Horror
- SciFi and Fantasy
- Women's Fiction (formerly romance)
- World Literature (formerly literary fiction)
- Young Adult
This round we're trying out a couple of new things as well. We're devoting February 2010 to Margaret Atwood since she'll be speaking on campus at the beginning of March as part of the UB Distinguished Speakers series. Another month we plan to focus on an author rather than on a book; everyone can read whatever title most interests them and we'll see where the discussion leads.

Regular book club members are invited to suggest titles. I take all the suggestions and use them to create voting lists, fleshing out various sections if they are looking a bit bare. We aim for 10-20 options per category.

I set up an online voting mechanism and for each category voters (any library staff member is eligible) are encouraged to select up to five titles they'd like to read. They can also mark their top choice for each category. I use the top-choice votes to give weight to titles in case of a tie.

This is all a bit of a production, but each time we vote I can use the results to schedule two years worth of meetings. Oh, and I find the whole thing quite fun, despite the work it entails.

Since we're just about to start the voting for this round of book club selections, I thought I might share our voting lists over the course of the week. If anyone has any strong feelings about books we should or should not pick, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Check back tomorrow for the first installment.


  1. Hi! It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and I just wanted to leave a note to let you know that I really enjoy reading your blog. I've picked several great book recommendations from you (especially non-fic). So, thanks!

  2. Nice website. I'll look forward to seeing your reading list. I really enjoy reading historical fiction. I'm completely engrossed in a book called My Splendid Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse. It's the story of a young diplomat working in China during the 19th century. I'm learning so much about the Chinese culture. It may be a book suited for you Historical Fiction reading list.