By Brielle Braxton-Young; The Whetstone
Once a month, a group of women and men gather at the Dover Public Library to chat. But not just about anything.
They’re there to discuss characters, plots, and settings of the latest piece of literature they just read or listened to.
The library’s book club meets in Multipurpose Room B on the lower level of the library. The group meets once a month on Sundays at 2 p.m.
Michelle Hughes has been the book group’s director since 2010.
The book group has about a month to finish the book before the next meeting.
“I try to make sure that I have a large-print copy, an audio copy and a regular print,” she said. “Some people prefer to listen, while others need the larger print.”
Hughes says she won’t pick a title unless it has all three of those options.
When the meeting starts, the group goes around and talks about some of the recent books they have read outside of the book group.
There are about 12-18 members of the group.
This book group is fairly large considering the average book club host 12 members.
Book group member Andrew Jackson read ahead.
“I didn’t have anything to do so I read the book that we are supposed to be reading next week,” he said. “I’m not done yet – but so far I figured it is about Chinese Americans.”
February 24 was the first book group meeting of the year. The book discussed was, “Our Souls at Night,” by Kent Haruf.
Hughes facilitates the discussion. She has a list of questions she asks, but said sometimes the discussions get heated and she may have to re-direct the group back before it leads somewhere else.
The members choose the books read.
The process of choosing the list of books to read begins in November, when suggestions are taken. By December, the group has a list of options they vote on.
Hughes said there was a time that Dover didn’t have a book group.
“We started small, and my first meeting I had two people,” she said. “It has grown progressively over the years due to word of mouth by members or from our newsletter promotions.”
Hughes said book groups are fundamental to the Dover Public Library.
“Literature is one of the things we are very passionate about,” she said. “Although people come and go, I still think it is a good way for people to engage, socialize and get to know about there community members.”
“Being a part of the book club has forced me to pick up some non-fiction titles that I would have never picked up on my own,” said member Beverly Hughes, no relation to Michelle.
Although the group has only four men, it’s great to have them for different perspectives, she said. “When we do, it’s very enlightening.”
Member Gail White agreed.
“I think what I enjoy is hearing other peoples’ impression about the book and that enlightens me to see it from a different perspective,” she said.
Member Mark Fisk said the book club opened him up to reading fiction.
“I usually read non-fiction so this book club got me reading fiction books,” he said. “I like hearing others’ opinions, especially when they lead to a good discussion.”
Pre-selecting the books titles saves member Barbra McDaniel time on trying to figure out what her next read should be.
“I like having the titles pre-selected because I often am unable to make decisions about what I would like to read,” she said.
Although the main goal of the book club is to discuss the book of the month, sometimes Michelle Hughes provides treats, speakers, and movie clips as part of the hour-long session.
The ladies and men come from all different backgrounds, but one thing they all agree on: they all love books.