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March 4, 2015

Winter Meeting Woes: Book Groups Share Strategies for Coping with Uncooperative Weather


It’s been a brutal winter, and all this snow has made traveling nearly impossible. We got to wondering how book groups have been faring in these colder months, and what measures they’ve been taking to combat these precipitous obstacles. We asked our readers in last month’s registered newsletter to share their strategies, and we were delighted (but not surprised) to see that many of you seem to have this all figured out.

Linda H.’s group, the Bookwisers, has a very practical approach. Due to temperatures hitting negative degrees (and dragged down even further by an unrelenting wind chill), several members were “unwilling or unable to attend” their monthly meeting. They’ve been together for more than 12 years, and have found it impossible to get all their members together on an alternate date. “We have our list set for the year and hate to monkey with it once we agree on it,” Linda told us. In order to compensate for the cancellation, they plan to start their meeting earlier next month, giving themselves enough time to discuss Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH and Richard Russo’s ELSEWHERE. Good luck, Bookwisers!

Another reader shares that her forward-thinking group, the Bookmarks, decided to avoid the wintry weather problem by only meeting from March through November…and taking December through February off. We’re happy to report that that plan is working well for them.

Michelle S., who lives in west central Minnesota tells us that her group, the Friends of the Library Book Club, has to cancel at least once every winter due to inclement weather. They meet at their local library, so they don’t have much flexiblility when it comes to rescheduling. Often, they’ll simply double up on books at their next meeting.

Betty C.’s group has a similar strategy. They had to cancel their January meeting for John Grisham’s SYCAMORE ROW, so they discussed that and Garth Stein’s THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN at their February meeting. Betty was nonplussed: “No problem,” she said.

Shirley F. from Middlesex, NJ shares that her group, the Bookies, had an ambitious approach that wasn’t quite successful. Her group had to cancel their early February discussion of Lisa See’s SHANGHAI GIRLS, so they gave themselves two extra weeks to read it and discuss it mid-month. Because that left fewer weeks until their scheduled March meeting, they chose to follow up with a shorter book: Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE. Unfortunately, they had to cancel the rescheduled February meeting, too, and are now planning to only discuss SHANGHAI GIRLS in March. As Shirley said: “So much for trying to beat mother nature!”

Carolyn’s group, the Nesconset/Lake Ronkonkoma Homemakers, has been similarly unlucky. They usually meet on Tuesdays, and because we’ve gotten so much early-week snow this winter, they’ve had to cancel all of their late-January and February meetings. They’d planned to discuss Linda Holeman’s THE LINNET BIRD in January and THE BOOK THIEF in February. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be more cooperative in March!

We were particularly intrigued by Valerie C.’s group, Speaking Volumes, a radio book group for the blind and vision impaired. They broadcast live on the first Tuesday of each month, and even they had to cancel February’s discussion of THE GOLDFINCH. Because all of their books have to have been recorded by the Library of Congress and available through the Talking Book Library, timing is of the essence, especially when it comes to newer titles. Valerie’s group usually chooses their books four-to-five months in advance, and so are bumping each book back a month to make up for lost time.

We’re finally nearing the end of this stubborn season, and can look forward --- hopefully! --- to meetings marching on uninterrupted. Thanks to all our readers for sharing your brilliant strategies, and keep letting us know how you’re coping. Here’s to sunshine and an early spring…it's safe to say we’ve all earned it!

Have your group's weather story to share? Drop me a note at [email protected].