Selecting books for the library book discussions is always something I wrestle with. I make diagrams and charts - list pros and cons - scratch things out and change my mind a billion times. It can be tough! The book needs to be amusing but also discussable, a balance that can be tough to strike. And most important, I have to read it too, so I always try to pick something I either haven't read yet, or that I wouldn't mind re-reading.
I run two clubs at the Northbrook Public Library, and for specifics on each group, you can check out the recaps here. But I wanted to go over my process for book selection, minus my poorly drawn diagrams and charts of course, because when it comes to book discussions, success and failure can be a basic as the book choice. It is very important.
First, I consider my audience. I think about what books have worked in the past, and what haven't. Since both of my book clubs are new, this is a little tough. So I try to draw on my experiences running book clubs at other libraries, like LitLounge, for example.
Then I check Goodreads. Throughout the year, I add books to a shelves specifically for each book club: one for Books on Tap, and another for Suspicious Minds. This is anything I can think of that might fit well with the group - not necessarily what I will be picking, but I nice, big list to start narrowing down from.
After that, I start writing out a short list, and then I start placing holds and checking out all the books on the short list. No, I don't read every single one. But I do read the first few paragraphs, check reviews, see if there are any book clubs that have read the book already (hint: google "book club" and the title of the book).
And if none of that helps me narrow my choices, I head to my social networks for some good, old-fashioned crowdsourcing because nothing beats the power of your internet peers. Maybe someone you follow on Twitter lead a discussion on the book you're considering already. You never know unless you ask.
Book selection is so important - even if you let your book club members vote on what they want to read. So take your time, consider your options, and learn from your mistakes.