A little birdie today told me that October is National Reading Group Month (NRGM), an initiative of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). That little birdie (aka Michigan librarian Marika Zemke) also took a year-long hiatus from reviewing for LJ to read, discuss, and debate some 50 books via a private blog with 22 other WNBA judges. Their hard work has finally come to fruition with the announcement of their 2012 Great Group Reads.
Titles were selected on the basis of their appeal to reading groups as a means of stimulating conversations about a range of topics from family dynamics to world events. The committee also chose to focus attention on titles from small presses like Red Hen, Other, and Grove and lesser-known mid-list releases from major publishers. A starter packet includes a flyer and a WNBA/NRGM bookmark, and librarians, booksellers, and reading groups are welcomed to use any of the materials found on the NRGB website for “October is National Reading Group Month” purposes.
For book clubs overwhelmed by the flood of new titles every year, this fourth annual list offers a diverse range of provocative choices from Wiley Cash’s haunting Southern coming-of-age gothic A Land More Kind Than Home and David Maine’s An Age of Madness, a penetrating story about a psychiatrist coming to terms with her grief, to Eowyn Ivey’s lovely retelling of a Russian fairy tale in The Snow Child and Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, an unconventional memoir of the British author’s Pentecostal childhood with an unloving mother.
I suspect more than a few of these excellent picks will be appearing on many Best of 2012 lists. Congrats to Marika and her fellow committee members for putting together such an interesting and eclectic collection of reading suggestions. These titles are bound to provide hours of lively book club conversations. Happy Reading!