Thursday, October 26, 2017

Personal Library / Readers' Circle Post 13 :: Write 31 Days

Writing about your personal library may seem difficult, but there's are reasons for the books you've chosen to bring into your life. That's how I think of my library--as part of my life. Very likely that's because I read daily. Yes, daily. Even if I'm busy. Or there are things going that overwhelm me. There's going to be some reading in the chaos.

Now when I say library, I mean literally (in my case) a library of books--mostly hard back. I don't do the e-book thing yet. I don't need to since I have the real thing everywhere. But that's me. I've been rather lucky in the book business. If you do read on your phone or tablet or computer, then I mean that in your case. Most importantly, let's just agree library, books, reading all mean your mode.

To approach a post like this, you should take a few minutes to determine what kind of reading you do and why. For example, I read mostly classics because I'm trying to work my way through those I haven't gotten to, they are challenging and, in some cases, something has intrigued me: another work by the author, a review, a movie, or possibly a recommendation from a friend. 

Maybe think about what you don't like to determine what you do read. I don't like horror, though I've read Frankenstein and may one day read Dracula. Beyond that I like historical fiction and any classic, having stood the test of time, has to be historical. Give me girls in heavy dresses, men in uncomfortable suits and formality. I'll show you works without the laid-back, foul-language, flaunt-all-you've-got life of today.

But back to thinking about your library. Try to define it, to put a name to the types of books on your shelves. The classics, suspense, horror, romance, cultural, historical, young adult, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and paranormal are just a few of the genres. 

Perhaps you enjoy a variety of genres or can combine two of the genres listed. Regardless, put a name to your collection. Once you do that, it should be easy to figure out why you like these kinds of books. Add this to your notes. 

I have three different collections of books--classic and contemporary novels, nonfiction (which include books from teaching), and quilting books. All three can be subcategorized. For example, my nonfiction can be subdivided into teaching writing, poetry, short stories, fine arts, drama and the non-fiction that I taught during the Common Core years. It's easy to see that I like learning about the subjects I taught for 28 years. Many were added during the time that I taught a particular class, either at the high school or college level. 

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @anniespratt
Now you're ready to begin writing about your library. Some ways to write about your personal library can include 
  • write about each book separately and give a short blurb
  • write about the individual genres, define the genre and give examples of the books you recommend from it
  • recommend your favorite books and tell why you like them
  • give a historical review starting with when you added your first books to now and tell what was happening in your life to steer you toward them
  • connect books and movies telling how closely the movie follows the book (without giving away the endings)
  • ask readers to recommend books, read them and host a readers' circle online
  • suggest a book to readers, giving them time to read it, and host a readers' circle online
Books that fit a particular niche are especially interesting to readers in that niche. If you are a quilter, you may be interested in knowing that I have a pretty extensive collection of quilting books. Some are quite old 1)--they came from my mother--and others are very new. I have perhaps five or six on modern quilting 2). One or two in particular have been used to teach 3) quilting for years. I could write a post on each of the types that I just mentioned (see the numbers after each).  It's also possible to use some of the suggestions in the list above to write about your selective books.

This brings us to hosting an online readers' circle. You don't have to wait until everyone has finished reading the book to begin your readers' circle discussion. Ask for help from readers who will join you and assign them the task of being the discussion leader for several chapters. To assist them, give them topics and suggest online resources to use for questions/discussion. I like to use an Excel sheet to keep up with the plan, but I keep it simple. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Date Chapters Discussion Leader Topic
1/20/2018 1-4 Mary Character
2/15/2018 5-10 Angie Conflict
2/28/2018 11-16 Sally Plot/Theme
3/17/2018 17-25 Grace Conflict/Character
3/30/2018 26-30 Reese Plot/Theme

Once you know who plans to join the fun, send them a copy of the schedule so they can keep up with the reading. At this point you have a couple of online options: a Facebook page specifically for the group, your blog site or a blog link party, Twitter feed, blog specifically for the group, or any number of social media platforms. Keeping in mind that the readers' circle may drive traffic to the platform, you may consider what your discussion leaders would prefer as well.

It's a good idea to collaborate with your discussion leaders to set rules at the beginning, Allowing anyone to join the discussion can present problems, but the discussion leaders should try to resolve them. If necessary, it's possible to remove someone (or their comments) from the group. (Note that everyone has a right to his/her opinion, but no one has a right to force that opinion on others.)

Finally you don't need many people to join your readers' circle to enjoy and discuss the book. If a few people are enthusiastic about sharing their insights, you can enjoy a lively debate without worry. Sharing your personal library or hosting a readers' circle can be a great opportunity to know your readers better, and they get to know you. Readers have opportunities to express their opinions about real life issues while keeping the focus on the novel. There's your best reason to open a discussion.

Photo credit: Chris Lawton @chrislawton

1 comment:

Kaja said...

I've always been a bit of a book hoarder, though I pared things down last time I moved (into a much smaller house). I love browsing other people's shelves too - something the e-readers are going to put paid to.