The Williamsburg Regional Library will hold an interest meeting tonight for a new book group aimed at young adults between 18 and 30 years old.
“I’ve talked with a number of adults in that age range who asked me about book club opportunities and it just sort of reached a tipping point, that I thought it was something we should explore,” librarian Andrew Smith said.
This new book club represents a growing trend in the United States — book clubs are becoming more and more popular, especially among the young and the educated.
After Wendy Korwin graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000, she joined a book club in Charlottesville with other U.Va. grads. Her story is similar to many recent college graduates; they are looking to fill a conversational void after leaving the near-constant academic discussions of college.
“I think a lot of people, especially shortly after college, miss the bonds that can be formed through written texts with other people who are reading it and discussing it in the same space as you,” she said.
Korwin is now a graduate student in the College of William and Mary’s American studies program. Her research focuses on libraries and reading practices in America.
While certain genres can provide the basis for a book club — the Williamsburg library hosts a science fiction and fantasy group, for example — a frequent foundation beside the literature is the relationships between participants.
“Often times people join or form book clubs with their friends, where they already have relationships in place based around other things, like their children or their workplace,” Korwin said.
A common background is what Smith is hoping to take advantage of with the new young adult-oriented book club.
“I think this offers a great additional option for the twentysomethings and people in their early thirties to do in Williamsburg,” he said. “That’s one of the things that I wanted to achieve with getting this group started, is to give people an opportunity to share their reading with other people in the community who at least share that age demographic.”
The Williamsburg Regional Library already hosts four book clubs, Smith said, including the sci-fi group. The library also sees evidence of external clubs in the community.
“Circulation at our library, particularly in the fiction collection, is up significantly over the past year,” he said. “I see a lot of, particularly in the new neighborhoods, that people are using book clubs as a way of getting to know their neighbors, sort of incorporating themselves into a new community.”
The library offers a “gab bag” program for book clubs to use. The bags include multiple copies of popular books, including fiction, memoirs and history books, along with reading guides and topics for discussion. Smith said more gab bags are being checked out now than ever before, and the library’s general circulation is up as well, showing a growth in the library’s popularity.
Smith noted that, while book clubs are good for publishers and for library circulation, they also benefit the club members.
“I think that the discussions themselves are adding to people’s enthusiasm and thoughtfulness about the materials that they’re reading,” he said.
An organizational meeting for the new young adult book club will take place at Alize Bistro on Prince George Street in Williamsburg tonight,Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m.