LitClub:  Books on Tap
Springdale Public Library—Springdale, Arkansas

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THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK —and already they have close to 30 members. Meet cider-drinking Books on Tap from Springdale, Arkansas .

You're brand new!

Yes, we've been around for about a month now. Our first meeting was June 7, 2016.

And this is July 15! Tell us how you got started.
Jennifer Johnson, one of our librarians, had been wanting to start a book club for years. Back in the spring, the Library's Programming Team asked if she would get one off the ground. And here we are!

So how's it going?
We have nearly 30 members. In mid-May Jennifer posted a Facebook event for our first meeting, and by June 1 we had  27 "going" and 168 "interested"—an incredible response.

And you're continuing to use Facebook, right?
Yes. We set up a closed group where members can share information about any one of our current books—they can post videos, share articles, or  continue a discussion beyond the monthly session.

Is it up and running?
It is. At our first meeting, we discussed Timothy Caulfield's Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?. Shortly afterward, a member posted an article about some in the scientific community who no longer feel they can ignore celebrities' "health" advice and its potential for harm.

So what are your other books?
Here's our list:
Modern Romance
Diary of an oxygen Thief
Girl on the Train
Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His Home

Obviously you don't have a favorite yet...or do you?
We thoroughly enjoyed—Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which we've also read. The book was packed full of issues—socioeconomics, gender stereotypes, societal norms, isolation, mental and physical wellness, attachment to both animate and inanimate objects, and relationships. Many of us felt a real sense of comradery with Strayed.

What about Timothy Caulfield's book on Gwyneth Paltrow, et al?
Despite its flaws, we had a great discussion—identifying problems with the book and its author's objectivity. [Springdale Library's Jennifer Johnson prepared her own extensive set of Discussion Questions for Caulfield's book—and has generously shared them with LitLovers. —Ed.]

You have a stupendous looking library, yet you meet elsewhere.
Yes, our library is wonderful (see bottom two photos): it's in a park setting but close to downtown. And we want to support the downtown, which is being revitalized with new restaurants, businesses, and lots of outside activities. So we decided to meet at Black Apple Crossing, a local cidery with a neighborhood vibe. It's a perfect atmosphere for friendly book club discussions. (See photos at top of column.)

Let's not forget the cider. . . ?
The cider is great! It's locally produced and delicious.

Have you had a chance to set any club rules?
Our library has a formal policy for book clubs. The intent is to foster a safe space for open discussions, recognizing that differences of opinion are healthy. The policy reminds us that we need to ...
stay on topic
listen respectfully
give everyone a chance to speak
be kind and gracious when disagreeing.

There is also an acknowledgement that, while not every member will like every book, differing perspectives are what lead to great discussions.

Amen to that!

Finally, what else would you like our readers to know about your club.

BOOKS ON TAP is a diverse group—in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, background, and profession. Not all of us are residents of Springdale, but everyone lives within the Northwest Arkansas region (specifically Washington and Benton counties).

Our members are high school teachers, librarians, corporate employees, graduate students, writers, yoga instructors, stay at home parents, and retirees. Our group is relaxed and sociable, allowing for excellent discussions. Even when a book is disappointing, the time together is constructive.

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