It is a truth universally acknowledged that we adults have fond memories of reading as a child. Participating in The Book It Program to get that Pizza Hut pizza. That decadent feeling when teachers allowed us “special reading time” on bean bag chairs at school. Giggling over getting caught reading with a flashlight under the covers until someone came in to give us the stink eye at midnight. Sitting cross-legged in the stacks at the library, surrounded by silence and the latest book the librarian shared with you as you worked your way through your summer reading log.
What if we could start making new memories, right here and now, around loving books and sharing the joy of a tale well told? Leisure reading is important for our physical and mental health as adults - reading fiction lessens symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety and it helps stave off dementia. Leisure reading increases empathy, increases our leadership skills, helps make us better citizens of the world as it opens windows to places and possibilities beyond our everyday lives. Stories are a magic portal, bringing wellness for our bodies, minds, and souls.
Perhaps a key component we’re missing as adults is feeling connected to another community of readers, feeling celebrated in our love of books. People who attend book clubs receive an extra dose of all of the above benefits, plus the removal of feeling isolated. The Readers’ Services department hosts several book clubs, provides curated displays and personalized reading recommendations, hosts a podcast, creates bookish programs, and meets you both in the building and out in the community to help you find your next great read, no matter where you are on your reading journey.
When we held the Book Nerd Party in the summer of 2019, hundreds of you came out to celebrate and it created some of my favorite memories in the eight years I’ve worked here at LPL. The camaraderie and joy around our celebration of reading inspired us to make something especially for adults, with that same ebullience, stretched over six weeks in the Fall. On offer will be more chances to connect with us and with each other. Adults of Lawrence, we invite you to our first annual Booktoberfest!
Booktoberfest will kick off at the beginning of October and will wrap up in mid-November. The festivities will include several large-scale programs to bring you together to do some learning about books we hope you’ll fall in love with, and hear more about the services the Book Squad provides to folks of all reading tastes. During this six-week extravaganza, we’ll get to connect more deeply as a community over a shared passion (BOOKS!), create new friendships and new memories. To grow personally in our love of reading and our commitment to giving ourselves the time and space to enrich our lives with stories? Now that is a universal truth we can all acknowledge.
Here’s a peek at the activities we’ll be doing, large and small. First up to kick off the month, come hear from acclaimed author Susan Orlean at Liberty Hall on October 3rd. Next, we will host some of our most-loved programs with a bookish spin: Hot Ghoul Drag Bingo, Trivia Smackdown, book nerd edition, and Book Club Speed Dating. All are planned to be held in person at the gorgeous Maceli’s. The library is also working on putting together new in-house event, Haunted Stacks, where we enjoy boooooks and boooooze and the chance to schmooze. (Okay, it works better if you say it all spooky-like…) We’ll also be debuting Lit Stitch, a cross-stitch take and make project, for when you’re hunkered down inside, listening to audiobooks - we’ll have some great recommendations included! And of course, our LPL Book Clubs are always free, open, and available to the public.
The thing about “first annual anything” is that we are relying on the love of the library, the love of stories, and the community spirit of Lawrence to show up and create a shared experience. But by the Second Annual Booktoberfest and beyond, we’ll have created new memories, hopefully, some to rival those from your childhood.
We can’t wait to see all of you again!
-Polli Kenn is the Readers' Services Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library.