OTTUMWA — If you’re into J.R.R. Tolkien or Isaac Asimov, you may want to consider joining a club that discusses work from them as well as other fantasy or sci-fi writers.
Speculative Literature, the newest book club at the public library does just that. It was started by Evan Clark three years ago and was taken over by David Vinyard in January 2019. Library Director Sonja Ferrell said it began as a way to reach out to different interests in the community.
“It’s a wide base genre, but it’s still a specific genre that is more inclusive and gets more people more interested than necessarily reading the best seller,” Ferrell said.”
Vinyard plans a year in advance for the books that will be discussed and read. As September draws near, Vinyard said they will read and discuss “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn.
“The subjects can get a little strange in this one,” Vinyard said, “This can be an example of circus freaks, that’s where they get the term “geek.” Although Vinyard decides what books will be discussed and read, he is open to suggestions from members.
Members are of different ages, but Ferrell said membership tends to fluctuate for different reasons.
“In December it’s hard to get people to have the time to get through the entire book and be there to discuss it,” Ferrell said. “They like having the book club to get them outside of their comfort zone and what they would have read. People still appreciate even an opportunity to just have a book suggested to them even if they can’t be there for the actual discussion.”
Although Vinyard said membership was down, he does hope for it to increase. “We’re always looking for more people to show up, if there’s more interest,” he said. “Anyone can come out and join, we take all ages. I’ve actually been thinking about ways I can advertise it more.”
Ferrell said members of this book club can check out the listed copies at the reference desk, instead of spending their own money to purchase the book on the list. She even said joining it or the other library book clubs can help members personally.
“There’s nothing like having the social interaction with people who are at first strangers and then become friends,” Ferell said. “You end up sharing different parts of your life that aren’t necessarily directly related to the plot or storyline, but come up in either in your head or through discussions. It’s about sharing your opinions and it’s just like any other club, where you have a common interest.”
Vinyard agreed with Ferrell. “I can’t fathom giving up a physical book in your hands,” he said,
“It’s even more important for me to discuss them in person. You definitely want to hear all participants be the ones [to share their opinions],” Vinyard said. “You can be colored by their own life experiences.”
(If you’re a Sci-Fi or Fantasy enthusiast and are interested in joining Speculative Literature, you can call the library at 641-682-7563)