Book Clubs: Under-researched and under-recognised

December 7th, 2021Book Clubs: Under-researched and under-recognised

ATTENDING a symposium all about book clubs is a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

ATTENDING a symposium all about book clubs is a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book – each participant will come away with their own ideas and direction for the story of their own book club experiences.

“Book clubs are under-researched and under-recognised,” explained Leslie Falkiner-Rose, the director of the first national symposium of book clubs in Australia.

She knows what she is talking about too. Leslie is already a board member of Clunes Booktown, the event that draws nearly 20,000 to the town of Clunes each year and of which the symposium is a new extension.  

As Leslie says, book clubs have a long history in Australia. CAE Book Groups started delivering books and reading guides to the front doors of Australians back in 1947, with the return of soldiers from WWII, as a way to help combat social isolation.

Now, many book clubs are online as well as face-to-face meetings.

“Book clubs are growing at a time when other community elements are breaking down.”

The very clubs that get together to discuss books are themselves going to be the topic of discussion at Book Club Friday – Connections to Stories, Ideas and Each Other, being held in Clunes on Friday, May 1, the Friday before Booktown.

There will be two different streams at the symposium – one for book club convenors and participants, or librarians, who are often the convenors of book clubs.

“The book club’s working session will explore the operational side of running a book club, sharing the ways they are structured, challenges to running them and potential solutions.”

The second stream is for industry representatives, book sellers, commercial book club convenors and authors and will explore potential areas for growth, barriers and incentives for growth and how to sell more books through book clubs.

Surely the most popular session will be the Battle of the Genres, during which representatives from romance and sci-fi, crime and fantasy, will battle to the death over which genre reigns supreme. To be fair, it is billed as a “light-hearted” debate over which genre deserves its own book club, with no actual physical battles. But that must be because everybody knows that “crime” should just win. Easily.

Registration for the event and further information can be found on the Clunes Booktown social media sites.

Words: Kate Taylor | Image: Contributed

More Articles

Back to top