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Library News

By: Marcela Saldivia, PhD
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 18, 2012

Library Sponsors Community Book Discussions

Organizing a book discussion can be an enjoyable endeavor but does require planning and resources. On the one hand, it presents an opportunity to make new friends as well as get acquainted with books that one might not be exposed to otherwise. On the other hand, organizing a book club entails a series of challenges from picking an appealing title, to finding an appropriate location, to providing enough copies for the club readers. Sedona Public Library has embraced these challenges and is offering regularly scheduled book discussions in our community.

A speaker program or community book discussion is held alternately once a month at Sedona Winds Retirement Center, absolutely free and open to the public. Ann Meiggs (former Library Board member and current member of the Sedona Public Library in the Village committee) schedules all the events.  The books for the discussions are donated by the Arizona Humanities Council. The speaker events are funded by the Arizona Humanities Council and the Friends of the Sedona Library.

The present-day book club member might be surprised to learn that the concept of a reading group has been around for a long time. While many people might give credit to Oprah Winfrey for popularizing the book club as we know it, its origins can be traced back as early as the 1700s.

Although there is some debate as to when the first book club was formed, there is consensus that modern book clubs had their genesis in the literary societies that flourished in the late 18th century. Historically, a literary society refers to salons such as those of Madame de Stael, Madame Goffrin, and Madame de Tencin in pre-Revolutionary France.

The continuous growth of literacy was a crucial factor that contributed to the enjoyment of book clubs by everyone and not just the literate elite. From being the privilege of a few, literacy became a basic right for all. Many external influences affected the growth and expansion of book clubs in the 20th century. From wars and the Great Depression, to the evolution of gender roles and social norms, society rapidly shifted and provided more opportunities for the general public.

Rachel W. Jacobsohn, author of “The Reading Group Handbook,” notes that free libraries and mandatory schooling had a profound impact on the rise of both reading as a pastime and increased literacy. In addition, she asserts that the influx of new immigrants “brought new voices to a newly diversified America.”

In the present time, the only requirements for joining a book club are time and interest. We invite community members in Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek to join us for fun and rewarding book discussions at Sedona Winds Retirement Center, which are free and open to the public.

Books are signed out at the previous month’s speaker program.  On May 23, at the in-character presentation of Carl Hayden, books will be available for the June discussion. After May 23, pick up your loaner copy of “Vanished Arizona” at Sedona Public Library in the Village in Tequa Marketplace. You may also download the book to your e-reader device from

Book discussions in 2012 will be held at the Sedona Winds Retirement Center at 1:30 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Monday, June 25, “Vanished Arizona” by Martha Summerhayes
  • Monday, August 27, “Where Angels Fear to Tread” by E.M. Forster
  • Wednesday, October 24, “An Unfinished Life” by Mark Spragg
  • Monday, December 17, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi
The Sedona Public Library is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, supported by donations and grants.  Your tax deductible donation may be sent to:  Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.

Pat Whitfield
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Marcela Saldivia, PhD, is Latino Services Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.