Sunday, May 25, 2008

Book Clubs Who Listen Not Discuss

Thursday last week, I presented Mudbound by Hillary Jordan to the Book Listeners Club of Memphis at the posh Chickasaw Country Club. The mean age of this group was 75; thus, more likely to listen to books than actually hold-in-hand read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not showing ageism here, just explaining the nature of this group. A group that has been in existence for over 30 years with the same name, they are listeners.

In general this older age set prefers books on tape for various reasons: 1.) Books are too heavy 2.) Eyesight is failing 3.) Hand tremors 4.) Limited choices in LT, etc..

Please, don’t bombard me with, my granny read until she dropped dead comments. I know, trust me I know. As a librarian, I have waited on many over the age of 85 who read large-typed (LT) books. One patron in particular (age 92) wanted mysteries, but not cozies, with no violence in the death. She was also tired of Agatha Christie, but preferred them to be British and large-type. Um, not only did I run a small Mississippi library, I was a Miracle Worker!

My contact at the meeting (age 87) was just delightful. Upon meeting me she exclaims, “You’re Pretty!” Hey, I like those compliments, but then she went on, “You’re so young.” I got to throw out my favorite, “I’m older than I look.” And quick as a wit she sails back, “Me, Too!”

Do you ever feel like there is a reason you meet certain people. I was the club’s third choose: the first fell and broke her hip, the second (my boss) had a seminar she had to attend, and both are named Margaret. I joked they were getting the cheap imitation Maggie. Well, anyway, my contact told me she flew her husband’s Cessna 310 upon learning I had a bachelor in aerospace. We told hangar after hangar stories until we were wore out.

Sorry, to be all over the place with this post. My point, some book clubs only meet with the intent of listening to book reviews by members or outside guests. They don’t meet once a month to discuss a book, but rather hear the opinion of a speaker who has read a book.

Our own Como Civic Club started out as Como Book Club in the 1920s with monthly speakers that morphed into community speakers when book talkers were hard to find. It makes me wonder. How many book clubs in North America prefer this format?

Book Club by water colorist Emmy White


Anonymous said...

I don't know of a group like this here, but I'm intrigued. We have many elderly patrons who like to listen as well. My mom lives in an assisted-living home. Wonder if this might be a way I could reach out. I'll have to think on this. Thanks so much for sharing!!

maggie moran said...

Many of the participants come from an upscale assisted-living community called Kirby Woods, and once a year they meet there. They have their own chef, Kay!

My boss began performing for them in 1995 and she gave me the low down. They pay a due and in return dress to the nines, go to the exclusive clubs for a nice lunch and then hear a book review. (During mine, they wanted me to stop so they could write down the title and author.) They do not meet in the summer. They have some sort of call list and they send out b-day, get well cards. They also gave me a TY with $25 for gas. I hope this extra info helps, Kay. :)

Anonymous said...

What a neat club as well as a neat post. You had me giggling with “I’m older than I look.” And quick as a wit she sails back, “Me, Too!”

Too precious!

maggie moran said...

J.Kaye, I absolutely loved her and hope I get a chance to see her again. She had me cracking up with other one liners and she had loads of "little old lady" jokes. Her words, now, not mine! :)

Debi said...

Oh Maggie, what a wonderful post! You must have had the best time!

I probably shouldn't admit this, but book clubs scare me. Whew. Got that off my chest. Seriously, I'm afraid I would join one and then everyone would discover what an idiot I am. I didn't realize there were book clubs where you didn't actually have to talk.

Grand Life said...

I read probably 80-100 books a year but just can't get into the organized book club thing. We have one in our neighborhood that I attend occasionally to keep a friend company but I usually go for the food. My taste in books is nothing like theirs and I have too much reading to finish before I die to read a book I'm not interested in. Joining your Southern Reading Thingy somehow is different-probably because I can choose the books. Probably goes back to my benign dislike of girls basketball in highschool.
Have a great week

maggie moran said...

OMG! You run 50 blogs at once and you think you can't handle a book club!


Debi, you don't know the number one rule of book club. No One is Wrong! You can be technically wrong (Henry wore a red shirt instead of a blue shirt), but not wrong about the way the book makes you feel. Go join a book club now! You rule!

maggie moran said...

"Probably goes back to my benign dislike of girls basketball in highschool."

Judy - Too funny! So a book club that doesn't really read a book might be right down your alley. Um, past the gymnasium. ;D

Tiffany Norris said...

Neat story! Our book club is all about discussing, but each person tries to come armed with at least one question/discussion jumping-off point.

maggie moran said...

That's a wonderful idea, Tiffany. I'll talk to my boss about implementing it, thanks. :)

Isabel said...

Maybe the ladies are a vision of the future - not reading books but just listening to it?

I heard that in latest Narnia movie, the writers left off stuff about Greek mythology because he didn't think the audience would appreciate or know about the references. Yike.

Modernity comes at a price, and I am not liking it.

maggie moran said...

That's sad WW100. I have to say I know nothing of mythology, but my mother loved it and taught some to her middle schoolers in the 80s and 90s. Too bad they left it out though. Sometimes that spurs kids to find out more. They hate to be out of the loop.

Lesley said...

I just had to make a comment when I saw the picture of the book club watercolor you included in this post. We just purchased the original artwork for our library, since both my director and I fell in love with this artist's work. We ended up buying a few of her other pieces as well and love them, too. They are out being framed right now and I can't wait to see them hanging in our new library.

That book club reminds me of book talks that we give sometimes at the library and as part of our outreach. I know I would love to go and just listen to people talk about a book they enjoyed.

maggie moran said...

OMG! It will be a beautiful addition to your library and I'm envious. It hangs in our library, too, but only as a screen saver.