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Book Clubs
Finding, starting, and participating in book discussion groups

Book Groups at the Library

The Friends of the Library sponsor three book clubs at Memorial Hall Library.  The clubs meet monthly September to June.  New members are always welcome.

Resources for Book Group Readers

Starting a book group doesn't take much--just interested participants and good reading material. It's a good idea, though, to think about what you and your fellow readers would like to get from the experience, and plan accordingly. Memorial Hall Library suggests the following books and Internet sites to guide you in your group's development:

Books

Sites

  • Book Group Corner
    This site, created by Random House Books, offers good advice on how to start a book club.
  • Reading Group Choices
    This web site offers tips on starting and running a book club, book suggestions, and more.

The Book Club & the Library

Memorial Hall Library is happy to help you obtain copies of a title for your book club. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a book for your group:

  • When choosing a book, check the library's catalog to make sure the consortium owns many copies of the title.
  • Each book club member can reserve their own copy of the book through our online catalog or by calling our reference desk at (978) 623-8401 Ext. 31 or 32 and a Reference Librarian will reserve a copy for you.
  • Brand-new titles and titles on bestseller lists, or titles that are currently very popular, will have long waiting lists and getting several copies of a title for a specific date will be difficult. 
  • The Merrimack Valley Library Consortium provides a collection of Book Club Kits, a tote bag with fifteen paperback copies of a title, a discussion guide, and if available, a large print copy, and a DVD or video that relates to the title.  Kits can be reserved up to three years in advance by accessing our online reservation system or by calling the MHL Reference Desk at 978-623-8401 Ext. 32.

Book Reviews & Author Info

It's easy enough to find criticism on classic literature (see our page on Literary Research), but where do you go for reviews of more recent works? Here are a few good starting places from Memorial Hall Library's computers and online:

  • Amazon.com
    Amazon.com does more than just sell books. Generally, a listing includes short reviews from magazines like Booklist and Kirkus Review.
  • The New York Times Book Review
    The New York Times offers citations to its book reviews back to 1980. Use it to locate a review, and ask a librarian to help you with New York Times microfilm to locate and print it. NYT is one of the best places to find lengthy, thoughtful reviews.
  • The New York Review of Books
    The NY Review of Books offers citations to reviews back to 1963, and full text of those published after 1996. Especially good for non-fiction works.

Book Discussion Guides

Book Club leaders generally prepare a list of questions or "talking points" to get a group started in its discussion. Here are a few Web sites offering sample discussion guides:

  • Amazon.com: Reading Group Guides Discussion guides organized by book type
  • Group Reads: A collection of book discussions to inspire Andover book groups
  • Reading Group Choices: This site offers suggested titles for book clubs, a searchable database of discussion guides, and advice for starting and leading your own reading group
  • Reading Group Guides: This site offers reading suggestions and discussion guides, and ideas and advice for starting and running a reading group
  • W.W. Norton Reading Guides: Discussion guides for various W.W. Norton titles
Last updated: January 29, 2014
URL: http://www.mhl.org/read/clubs.htm
Memorial Hall Library   2 N. Main Street   Andover, MA 01810    rdesk@mhl.org   p:978-623-8400   f:978-623-8407