Library book clubs edgier, more social
Jennifer Czajka, of the Oak Park Public Library, listens to a discussion of Henry Miller's novel, "Tropic of Cancer" during the genre X meeting at Molly Malone's. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
genre X meets every fourth Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Molly Malone’s, 7652 Madison St., Forest Park. The Feb. 26 discussion will be on Dog Stars by Peter Heller. www.oppl.org or genre-x.com.
What’s Cooking? meets monthly at the at Maze Branch at the Oak Park Public Library, 845 Gunderson Ave. The next meeting is at 2 p.m. March 10 to discuss The Casserole Queens Cookbook by Crystal Cook. Oppl.org.
The Pot Luck Book Club will meet at 6 p.m. March 27 at the Elmwood Park Public Library. The cookbook selection has yet to be determined. Elmwoodparklibrary.org.
The Read It — Make It Book Discussion will meet at 7 p.m. March 14 at the Elmwood Park Public Library, 1 Conti Parkway. The craft on Page 20 of Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell’s The Decorative Egg Book will be made the night of the discussion. Elmwoodparklibrary.org.
Updated: February 21, 2013 8:55PM
Book clubs at local libraries are expanding their social circles.
Since 2007, the Oak Park Public Library has hosted the genre X book club, which targets a younger demographic and reads books that are a bit edgier and more contemporary. The club meets outside of the library at Molly Malone’s in Forest Park.
“We sat down and decided there was a large community in Oak Park that wasn’t represented,” said Jennifer Czajka, OPPL Adult & Teen Services librarian. “They were the people in their 20s and 30s. They were self-serving, picking up their books and leaving. We thought the best way to interact and engage was to come to them. That’s why we decided to do a bar, a social atmosphere with alcohol and food.”
Fellow genre X moderator Rebecca Malinowski, an Adult & Teen Services librarian, said meeting outside of the library allows for a different tone in the discussion.
“If you go to a museum, you can’t touch anything,” she said. “At the library, you have to be quiet. That is changing, but people’s perceptions haven’t really gotten to that point. The library would bring a more serious tone to [the discussion]. We do plenty of serious discussion, but with more an irreverent tone.”
The normal book club fare isn’t on the discussion topic agenda.
“I think that reading about a lot of different genres is appealing to people who are maybe more experimental and exploratory than more traditional book groups may allow them to be,” Malinowski said. “The group has read everything — young adult books, modern day classics, literature in the canon and graphic novels.”
Some of the books the club has read are Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman, The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. For the Feb. 26 meeting, the book selection is Dog Stars by Peter Heller.
While genre X does target a younger demographic, as long as a person is interested in the book being discussed, Czajka said, they are welcome.
At the Maze Branch of OPPL and the Elmwood Park Public Library, staff members hope people will bond over cooking and crafting with the introduction of new clubs — What’s Cooking? at the Maze Branch and the Pot Luck Book Club and Read it — Make It at EPPL.
What’s Cooking? and the Pot Luck Book Club are taking advantage of the libraries’ cookbook collections.
“We’re trying to have book clubs and more library programs using people’s skills,” said Dan Beringhele, EPPL Adult Services Supervisor. “Everyone loves to eat. We want people to experiment with new recipes and take a look at our cookbook collection, which is extensive.”
Beringhele runs the Pot Luck Book Club. Participants pick one thing from the same cookbook and bring it to the library on discussion night.
For What’s Cooking, participants are asked to make two dishes. One dish is selected for everyone to make at home. Then they can choose a second dish to bring to share at the discussion.
“It really has been lively, really interesting,” said Jessica Roble-Cinelli, library assistant and What’s Cooking? moderator. “We delve off into other topics. Food brings out childhood memories. So much in our lives center around food and cooking.”
Both clubs have selected cookbooks that offer people a chance to cook things they normally wouldn’t as well as a new take on dishes they may use all the time.
Molly Bitters, a reference librarian at EPPL, also finds the options for the Read It — Make It book discussion open.
“The general idea is we pick up a different craft book every month,” she said. “People can check it out and then come back and we all do a craft project together.”
The club is all ages, ranging from youth to seniors, and Bitters said she tries to choose a craft that anyone can at least try. Some past crafts have included leather cuff bracelets and bento boxes.
“We have a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s pretty laid back and loose and it’s meant to be encouraging and fun for everyone.”
Future crafts, Bitters said, will include natural egg dyeing and hardware jewelry.