To Every Season There Is a Reader!

Summer ReadsWhat to do with (or without) your group this summer

Vacations, road trips, BBQs, camp for the kids, and long days of sun: Summers can be full. Schedules get thrown off, people leave town, and it’s not always easy to stick to a regular book club meeting. Also, our reading moods can change with the weather, leaving us to crave different types of books than we might read with our group. So what do to?

Reading Group Choices presents some alternative ways to read this summer. Here are six ways to find a balance between your seasonal moods (and calendars) while staying connected with your group!

#1. Have a reading party!

The idea here is not to discuss one book, but to gather your group and share what you’re reading individually. Each member talks about a title, why they chose it, and whether they recommend it. The meeting can be more casual and festive (see #4 below), and everyone can indulge their individual reading tastes. You can also incorporate a meeting like this at any time of year.

Variation: Get together simply to read with one another. Begin by sharing a little information about the book, and then spend an hour reading together. Find a park or porch, open lawn chairs or spread out blankets. It’s a way to share your love of reading with your group members — with less of the discussion.

And if the idea interests you more, check out silent reading clubs that exist in a number of cities across the country and the world. You can even start your own chapter!)

Variation: Plan this meeting for the end of the summer, when you can report back or choose your top read for the season. It will give all members the freedom to follow their personal interests, and something to look forward to after a break!

#2. Set a challenge

American FireThere are many creative lists out there challenging readers to choose titles that satisfy certain categories. For example, you might track down…

A book published posthumously

A book of true crime

A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)

A comic written and drawn by the same person

Circulate a list to your members and have everyone select a book that fits a different category, or assign them randomly. (Don’t worry about finding a match… the Reading Group Choices site offers lots of options!) And then plan a gathering at the end of summer to discuss how you did. It just might lead your group to a new favorite author or undiscovered genre.

You can also use a list as a personal challenge for your own reading.

#3. Read seasonally

Cocoa BeachJust like the farmers market! Summer brings cherries and peaches, and readers too can select books that fit the season. The time may not be suited to a dense, 800-page historical novel (though of course our tastes differ!). But how about something intended to be enjoyed in warm weather? A book where the pages turn a bit easier, like the breeze?

Maybe it’s the season to follow the fiery, drink-loving Auntie Poldi as she solves crime in Sicily.  Or head to the beaches of Florida for a Prohibition-era tale of love and betrayal

#4. Take it outdoors

Book clubs are great around a living room or kitchen table, but with the long days and warm weather, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of spaces you normally can’t use. Give everyone in the group a break from cleaning up their house to host and instead choose a park or forest preserve—or just the patio of your favorite coffee shop. A new setting may add a new dynamic to your discussion!

#5. Catch up on a series

A Dying FallWith maybe some extra plane or car time on your calendar (or just some afternoons in the shade), summer is a perfect time to catch up on a series. Perhaps your group read the first in a series, and you always meant to continue. Now’s the time!

Amy Stewart’s Kopp sisters series is a favorite, based on the true-to-life story of one of the nation’s first female crime-fighters. You can begin with the first book, Girl Waits With Gun. Or skip across the pond to follow forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway in Elly Griffiths’ series of mysteries, including The Crossing Places and  A Dying Fall.

You can even give your group the summer to read them together, and then reunite for a discussion of several books.

#6. Take a break!

Last but not least, there’s no reason not to indulge in a little personal reading time this summer. Attack your To-Be-Read pile, or catch up on the books that didn’t get selected for group discussion during the year. It will recharge your reading batteries for all of the great discussions you’ll have in the fall!