TALK DOESN'T COOK RICE: Bibliophiles start new chapter in book clubs

In this age of mindless reality television, 24-hour social media and short attention spans, if you love books, you might occasionally find yourself staring into the seeming void, calling out, “Isn’t there anyone out there who still likes to read?”

It turns out that the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

I know it’s easy to feel isolated if you’re a reader — and for some, that’s part of the lure of reading — but it doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. For those who love to read but also crave the interaction of sharing new ideas, being in a book club might be the answer. All you need are people who enjoy reading and can commit to getting together regularly.

Kristina Yezdimer, the Schlow Centre Region Library adult services librarian, leads several book clubs at the library and says there are many others in our area. If you’re looking to start your own club, she recommends six to 10 people, whether they be friends, neighbors or co-workers, and suggests putting up a flyer at work, at the library, at your place of worship or even posting on your Facebook page (a good way to combine the aforementioned trivial 24-hour social media with something a bit more satisfying).

There are plenty of resources if your idea of starting a book club is actually joining an already existing one.

“Our public bulletin board is an option,” Yezdimer said. “And meetup.com is a good site to find interested people and organize meetings.”

Those who do want the interaction — but not too much of it — can go the online route (although if you ask me, the dynamic couldn’t possibly be the same as getting everyone together in the same room: the shouting, the controversy, the grab for the last cupcake) by using, for example, Goodreads or Atlantic magazine’s Twitter book group.

State College residents Ann and Tom Hattsenberger have made their science book club into more of a social event by incorporating, as Ann said, “a light meal” into the evening, which is a great idea for those who want to get to know their club members better.

“We share our homes for meeting places, and the couple that’s having the next meeting presents several book suggestions from which to choose,” she said.

The club finds books through the New York Times Science section, book reviews, browsing new books at the library and book stores, or simple word of mouth.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to simple book discussion without the added time and effort of sharing a meal. For some book groups, socializing will be more important than the book; for others, it’ll be strictly book business. It’s up to each group to decide.

Just make sure you’re all on the same page.

Sherry Coven can be reached at cdtweekender@centredaily.com.