The new year has begun and perhaps you are still trying to think of a new year’s resolution or haven’t started one yet. My suggestion would be to join a book discussion group!  

Salina Public Library has several book discussion groups throughout the year, including one I host, as well as special Salina Reads book discussions in February. Take your pick of one of several books in preparation for February’s discussions. Then if you are interested in reading more similar books, register again in March and beyond. You still have plenty of time to check out and read any of February’s book selections. 

There are 6 book club discussions hosted by Salina Public Library staff or partner organizations with books available in the library’s book discussion area. 

  • Book Club to New Worlds
  • LGBTQ+ Book Group
  • Monday Night Book Discussion
  • Fantastic NON-Fiction Book Group
  • Salina Art Center Book Club
  • Wellness Book Group

Book Club to New Worlds is the Salina Public Library book discussion group that I host. We usually meet every Second Sunday of the month at 1 p.m. at Ad Astra downtown. Order a coffee or tea while discussing what we have read. We have a rotating selection of science-fiction novels, graphic novels with a fantasy or science-fiction theme and fantasy novels. Graphic novels are one of our most popular and fastest-growing collections. Science fiction stories typically take place in the future and deal with technology. Fantasy deals with fantastical elements in worlds that may or may not be our own, and includes fictional creatures such as monsters, elves, djinn, and more. You can see other upcoming titles on our website and you can register for our next discussion on “Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer through our calendar.

My co-worker and Adult programmer Ben hosts the LGBTQ+ Book Group, which meets on the second Thursday of each month in the Campbell Room at Salina Public Library.  The LGBTQ+ book group provides a safe space for anyone interested in reading and engaging with others about novels with LGBTQ+ themes.  You can register for February’s LGBTQ+ Book Group here where they will discuss “A Natural History of Transition: Stories” by Callum Angus. Like the Books to New Worlds February selection,  this one is also nature-themed to coincide with the Salina Reads book “Lab Girl” which has programming throughout February.

Head of Information Services Stefanie hosts the Monday Night Book Discussion every second Monday of the month in the Campbell Room at 6:15 p.m. This group meets to discuss books from all different genres. If you cannot make it in person or prefer not to travel, a Zoom link will be sent to participants. All attendees will be able to talk to each other, whether you are physically or virtually present. For the February discussion on “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren, the 2024 Salina Reads selection, register here. This is a memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world. Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. 

In addition to the Monday Night Book Discussion, Stefanie hosts the Fantastic NON-Fiction Book Group every third Thursday of the month at 6:15 p.m. in the Campbell Room. As the name suggests, nonfiction books are the focus of this book group. Discuss titles that are engaging, compelling and go beyond stuffy facts and figures. Can’t make it in person? You can Zoom into this discussion as well. Multiple book groups rarely discuss the same book but in February they will also read “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. Register on our online calendar. If you are a fast reader, you might still have time to read “Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains” by Lucas Bessire before this group meets on Thursday, January 18 at 6:15 p.m. in the Campbell Room. See the details here. The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala and other aquifers around the world is a defining planetary crisis of our times. Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss.

While a Salina Public Library staff person does not host the discussions of the Salina Art Center Book Club and the Wellness Book Club, they are promoted by Salina Public Library and their books can be checked out here too.

The Salina Art Center Book Club meets quarterly on the 4th Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Salina Arts & Humanities Warehouse. Their next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 26 and registration is required to attend. The title chosen for February is “Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo” by Hayden Herrera. This biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.

The Wellness Book Group provides an opportunity to read selections that promote and encourage wellness practice in our daily lives. This group meets on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Salina Family YMCA, Lower Level Conference Room. The Wellness Book Club is hosted by Carol Rubino, a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach. Since the January discussion is on this upcoming Sunday the 21st, you still have time to check out and read the book within a week. The title chosen for January is “The Well-Lived Life: A 102-Year-Old Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age” by Gladys McGarey, the cofounder of the American Holistic Medical Association. She began her medical practice at a time when women couldn’t even have their own bank accounts. Over the past sixty years, she has pioneered a new way of thinking about disease and health that has transformed the way we imagine health care and self-care around the world. On these pages, Dr. McGarey shares her six actionable secrets to enjoying lives that are long, happy, and purpose-driven. You can register here.

In addition to Salina Public Library’s book discussions, I recommend checking out a worldwide book discussion group that I enjoy participating in! Branching Out Book Club is a community bound together by books. You can join here through Discord. The goal is to read deeply, broadly and diversely. The platform allows you to discuss a particular segment of a book without any spoilers.  Since this book club is worldwide, readers are able to gain new perspectives and friends from all over the globe. Members participate in ranked voting to help moderators decide on the next book choice. Soon we will start a new book, so this is the perfect time to join Branching Out Book Club. The next reading period runs from January 15 to February 25. Romance was voted to be the genre for the next book selection, which will be perfect for the reading period that is during Valentine’s Day. The book chosen is “The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen” by K-J Charles. Abandoned by his father, Gareth Inglis grew up lonely, prickly, and well-used to disappointment. Still, he longs for a connection. When he meets a charming stranger, he falls head over heels until everything goes wrong and he’s left alone again. Then Gareth’s father dies, turning the shabby London clerk into Sir Gareth, with a grand house on the remote Romney Marsh and a family he doesn’t know. The moderator who nominated this selection said, “I really love KJ Charles’ books and this is definitely one of her strong ones. Her explorations of morality, legality and how the two can be at odds is really well done in this book. I also appreciate how her characters often experience difficulties because of the society and time they live in rather than because of bad communication skills. The sense of place in this book is another thing that really stuck with me. I hope everyone enjoys what I think is a great example of a classic romance novel that also has a fair amount of intrigue, suspense, and beetles.” You can check out this book here physically and digitally here.

A few blocks away from Salina Public Library, the local independent bookstore Red Fern Booksellers at 106 S Santa Fe Ave, is beginning a Contemporary Issues Book Club in 2024 with a guest facilitator at each meeting. The February selection is “The Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson and the meeting is on Saturday, February 10 at 2 p.m. The facilitator for the book discussion will be Tim Crews from The Land Institute. No registration is required to attend; just show up.  You can check out the physical book here at Salina Public Library.