Of Talking About Books There Is No End | Page 56 | Newberry

Of Talking About Books There Is No End

I thought I would take this opportunity to make some sociocultural observations. I know, I know: you come for the cheap laughs and I’m always glad to provide ‘em. But I work at this library, see, and sometimes I have to make sociocultural observations. It’s in the Employee Handbook.

The electronic book is not the only major thing that’s happened to the world of reading in the past decade or so. Another phenomenon which has swept the nation is the Book Group, that collection of literate individuals who get together to discuss a mutual book, chosen ahead of time, over light refreshments. The refreshments are reviewed by members as they leave the host house, but this is beyond the scope of my remarks, which can be divided into four easy pieces.

1. The Newberry Library does have a pair of Book Groups, but I am not involved. All I really know is that you have to be an Associate at a certain level to come and chat, and you shouldn’t even THINK about trying to join because the waiting list is longer than the line on the Thursday of the Book Fair. They must all be having fun.

2. Book groups are an absolute curse to a Book Fair manager because in the three or four days following a meeting, I suddenly receive eighteen copies of Plato’s Republic, or Tristram Shandy, or The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or whatever it is they’ve read and now feel free to get rid of. Don’t you people ever read a book you might like to read again?

3. Book groups are an absolute blessing to a Book Fair manager because in the month or so leading up to a meeting, I get requests like “Can you sell me seven copies of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?” Or “Sell me as many copies as you’ve got of The DaVinci Code; I’ll get the rest I need online.” Or even “Is there any book you’ve got eighteen copies of? It’s my turn to suggest a book and I can’t think of one.” I can’t always supply the requisite number or the desired book, but it can be great for sales, as well as helping me dispose of all those extra copies of The Help.

4. Cheap laughs department: These three book group members walk into a bar. Never noticed the difference. 

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