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June 10, 2008

We're Back...With a Question for You to Ponder!

Posted by carol

For all of you who have become faithful readers of this blog, my apologies for the absence of posts last week and yesterday. Between recovering from a six-day trip to LA for Book Expo America and trying to fight the horrific cold/bronchial/laryngitis thing that I picked up somewhere during the past two weeks, the last eight days became more about getting through than being creative. I realize that I actually say the words in my head --- and I think I even verbalize them in my throat --- when I write. Thus last week every time I went to write a column I started coughing. While this sounds like a "the dog ate my homework excuse," trust that it was very real! Many of our contributors were at Book Expo with me last week and while they were healthy, they were in frantic stages of catch-up and thus they were absent as well. Luckily this conference only happens once a year so I hope there will be no further lapses like this!

That summer approaches and our contributors are juggling summer travel/extra duties/beach reading time we are looking for some new voices for this blog. If you would like to contribute, we would love to hear from you. Drop Shannon McKenna Schmidt a note at [email protected] and share some of your background and your idea for a post. We like to mix it up --- and then theme certain weeks --- so the more we know about you and your topic the better.

In spite of my absence online, last Tuesday I was most present when I moderated (actually croaked my way through with a very raspy voice) a panel for a group of New York City public librarians. The panel and I not only shared ideas, but we also picked up some very interesting ones from the librarians in attendance. My co-panelists and I were recreating a part of panel that we had done at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. In attendance were Elizabeth Noble, the author of Things I Want My Daughters to Know, and Victoria Lustbader, the author of Stone Creek, and they were joined by Jennifer Hart from HarperCollins, who blogs for us and also has a very successful blog of her own called

One idea that came across during the panel was brought up by Elizabeth. She talked about the concept that she has found that people read for one of three reasons --- to learn, to think or to feel --- and those reasons influence what readers bring to the table when they are participating in book club discussions. It was one of those comments that brings all other conversation to a halt as the panelists and I immediately started exploring this. Someone who reads to learn will often suggest nonfiction titles and will want to discuss these books in a manner of trying to figure what they have gotten from the book. Someone who likes to think will suggest books that may be "clever" like classics or those where the topics are deep and you need to wrap yourself around them. Those who want to feel want books that have an emotional edge to them.

As soon as she said this I watched the room and saw everyone trying to chart their own reading habits. I, like Elizabeth, like to feel when I read. Anything that inspires emotion grabs me every single time. Yes, I like to think and to learn, but the way to really grab me is by making me feel. This topic inspired our poll question this month so jump over to the poll here and let us know which kind of reader you are. And then keep this in mind the next time your group meets. It will give you a better handle on why certain group members choose certain titles. Also, if you easily identify your favorite reading style, go on to ponder what is second for you. I still am noodling this for myself.

I love learning via fiction. I remember a line that Jacqueline Winspear mentioned years ago on a panel. She never liked reading history for fact, but tell her that a character had black teeth and she was completely riveted to the page. I think I like to learn my facts through story like this. Whether I am charting a course learning about a foreign place or a culture or an idea, wrap fiction around it and I am there. And I do love nonfiction that reads like a novel. Shadow Divers is a book that was like this for me. And MANY readers have said the same thing about The Devil in the White City. I guess for me it all comes down to the storytelling being what draws me in.

Would love to know what works for you!