Bartow Public Library is starting up our local book discussion program. We're starting off in March with Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, considering that a nice draw as Flynn's popularity for Gone Girl is high right now.
But one of the things I'd like for the book discussion group to look at for the future round of titles to read is to look at the books out there that aren't all the same type of fiction works.
If you look at the various organizations/services that help promote book discussions - like Reading Group Choices - nearly every book they encourage are the same. Personal narratives, coming-of-age, family secrets, romance stories among the fiction titles. Memoirs, biographies for the non-fiction titles.
I'm talking books like Empire Falls or Water for Elephants or Kite Runner or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
Very few crime Thrillers/Mysteries or Westerns or Fantasy/Science Fiction. I type in a search for Agatha Christie, I get zilch. Ray Bradbury, nada. At least Neil Gaiman's listed, but in terms of finding writers or works that are "out of the ordinary" this is a bit frustrating.
While I can probably promote a few authors or titles of recent vintage - Scalzi's Redshirts for example, or Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice - for any modern Science Fiction to encourage for the reading group, I'm not entirely certain that I can objectively recommend those reads. I know I have a bias: while reviews are nice, actual input from actual readers would help here.
This is a multi-layered problem. There's a reason why reading groups go for the "traditional" fiction of books like Kite Runner - your "human spirit" themes, the love stories, the mundane world made tragic or endearing - is because the readers who show up for discussion groups prefer those types of books. The problem is that such reads get dull or repetitive: it does not draw in a niche readership that might like dragons and aliens and smoky noir and speculative thoughts.
It'd be nice to mix it up a little.
So I'm sending a message out to the seven people who follow this blog: any suggestions along the lines of a Fantasy or Science Fiction novel published the last three or four years that would appeal to a public library discussion group?