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Thursday, October 1, 2009

October is National Reading Group Month

It’s officially October, and if you’re anywhere within 100 miles of Arizona, you can hear the sighs of relief all over the state as we (finally!) leave the days of 100+ temperatures behind. Usually, when October rolls around, we look forward to cheering on our teams as the football season continues (I have no idea how fantasy football works, but kudos and good luck to all of you who do) and picking out outrageous outfits to wear on the one day of the year where we can literally wear anything we want without fear of ridicule. (And sometimes we even score some candy for it! Yes, I still try to trick-or-treat and yes, it usually works because I'm short.)

What you may not be aware of is that there is another reason to celebrate October, and that has to do with something that is near and dear to all of our hearts: books. To celebrate the joy of shared reading and to encourage more people to get involved in reading groups, the Women's National Book Association (WNBA) has designated October as National Reading Group Month (NRGM). October 2009 will be the third annual celebration.

Festivities will include events with book club authors in each of the WNBA's 10 chapter cities: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and the newly formed Charlotte, North Carolina, chapter.

And if you've been hit by the reading group bug, be sure to check out the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing's Online Book Club; it's perfect for all you bibliophiles that are too busy to attend regular book club meetings but still want to join in on the fun.

Speaking of online literary ventures, online bookstores are gaining popularity these days. If you're in the mood for a departure from Amazon, you might want to try out Literary Matters. According to Publisher's Weekly, Esther Bushell, a teacher in Greenwich, Conn., has turned running book groups into a full-time job and now facilitates 20 of them. Last month, Bushell and former student Cai Boldt Pandolfino, who founded a popular cafe and catering business in Greenwich, decided to extend the book group experience with Literary Matters - an online bookstore at and author events organization. The website is intended for casual readers and bibliophiles, says Bushnell. In addition to brief reviews, she offers suggested reading lists for book groups like coming-of-age stories, major love stories or seven mysteries. "What Cai and I have tried to do," says Bushell, "is create a place for readers to share fellowship. People like personal recommendations from people they can trust.

If you're more of an old-fashioned, face-to-face book groupie (pun intended) and you live in the Phoenix area, you can join A Novel Approach, a general fiction discussion group that meets at the Foothills Branch Library in Glendale. Short Work, a group that discusses short pieces of literature, and Best in Books are both based at the Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert if you live on the east side of town, and you can always check out the Events link at the Changing Hands Bookstore website or click here to find Book Club Meetup Groups around town.

Happy reading!

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