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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Nov 8, 2021

With Public Library Director, Cathy Russ

Do you love to read?  Are you in a book club?  I’m so grateful to have discovered the love of books at a very young age, and I still love to read.  It takes me out of my own life and it gives me a richer, fuller life.  Did you know that over the past few years book clubs have grown in popularity?  In fact, millions and millions of Americans gather every week in person or virtually to eat, socialize, and discuss their favorite books. Most book clubs are small and consist of 10 or fewer members.  During the pandemic, virtual book clubs found their book clubs really growing.  Perhaps people rediscovered their love of reading as they spent more time at home, or suddenly found themselves out of work, or needed a way to socialize. Book clubs have become so popular that morning talk shows like TODAY and Good Morning America and well-known celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Jimmy Fallon are sponsoring their own book clubs.  

Today reading remains one of the lowest-cost forms of entertainment.  For just a few dollars, you can pick up the latest release from your favorite author and be transported to faraway lands and meet characters who will haunt your dreams or live in your memories.  Or, like me, you can visit your local library and borrow a book for free.  I still love holding a book and I still love going to the library and I still love going to bookstores.


My guest today, Cathy Russ, is the Director of the West Bloomfield Township Public Library.  She’s an avid reader and lover of book clubs and has been involved in organizing and facilitating book clubs since 1993.  She tells us all about what public libraries today can offer, and it may not be what you think! 


What You’ll Hear in This Episode:

  • How are book clubs organized?
  • What happens at a book club?
  • What happens when you don’t like the book that the club chooses?
  • Are there theme book clubs?
  • What are the most popular books right now?
  • Do book clubs ever dive into the classics?
  • What are “book club kits”?
  • Why should book clubs register with the library?
  • What are some of Cathy’s favorite books from this year?
  • What is The Bestsellers Club?
  • What services do public libraries offer?
  • Do you need a membership to use a library?
  • What are typical public library events?
  • How is a public library funded?
  • More about the apps Hoopla and Kanopy.
  • What is Friends of the Library?


Today’s Takeaway:  

Talking about a well-loved book is not only fun but can also enhance our understanding of others who have very different perspectives.  By reading and learning about other races, cultures, or philosophies, we put ourselves into the mindsets of those who think and live differently than we do.  Discussing particularly thought-provoking books with others can introduce unfamiliar concepts that may be foreign to our experience.  Ultimately this may foster a greater sense of unity and actually bring people together or inspire compromise.  Instead of observing from a distance, perhaps we may learn the reasons behind their beliefs or actions.   At a time when we are so divided as a nation and society, that can only be a good thing.  In addition, the public libraries offer so many free resources and the opportunity to participate in fun community events.  If you haven’t visited your public library in a while, what are you waiting for?  There’s no better gift right now than treating yourself to your new favorite, no challenge book, and taking some much-needed time to pause, read, and reflect.  Remember every day is a gift, and it’s a special gift when I can go to a library to read and take myself out of the everyday worries.   I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



“Book clubs can be organized in whatever way suits the book club.” - Cathy

“The key to the organization of book clubs is just to make sure everybody’s on the same page, if you will, and that everybody understands what the purpose is there to do.” - Cathy

“Libraries are about information.  If you want to learn more about something but you’re not sure how to go about it, talk to your librarian.” - Cathy

“It’s not your grandmother’s library.” - Cathy


Brought to You By:

Florine Mark


Mentioned in This Episode: 

West Bloomfield Township Public Library

Firekeeper’s Daughter

Thursday Murder Club

The Man Who Died Twice