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March 08, 2013
UD Young Adult Book Club Connects With Authors

The University of Dubuque Charles C. Myers Library is host to two monthly University Book Clubs - participation in one of which comes with bonus features!  The Young Adult (YA) Book Club, in its third year of existence, is attracting more readers to the genre, and features author chats as a regular part of its discussion groups.

Led by Becky Canovan, reference and instruction librarian, and Diana Newman, library office manager, the group continues to grow and introduce people to YA books. "We, of course, have meetings where we simply discuss the book we are reading, but we have begun to bring in new ways to interact with the material, and sometimes, with the author," Canovan said.  

Last year, after reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, Canovan corresponded via Twitter and email with the author. Book club members had the opportunity to ask McBride questions. "It was really great for the book club to be able to ask those questions we inevitably ask each other during our discussion of the book," Canovan said.  With an overwhelmingly positive response to the author interaction, Canovan has been able to arrange two author discussions via Skype.

The first Skype discussion was with Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, an apocalyptic book set in eastern Iowa just following the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Mullin joined the group via Skype to talk about why he set the book in Iowa, how Katrina and FEMA's response shaped his writing, and do a short reading from the book. "It was interesting being able to speak with an author whose work I had read and to see the way he spoke and acted as compared to the way he writes," said UD student Tanesha Shireman. The group was able to capture the audio of the hour-long discussion. It is available on their website at a page dedicated to Ashfall: http://libguides.dbq.edu/ashfall 

The second author Skype discussion was with Siobhan Vivian, author of Kirkus' Reviews Best Books of the Year Not That Kind of Girl and Same Difference and whose latest Burn for Burn has been optioned for television development, joined the book club last week for a discussion of her fourth book The List.

The book follows the lives of eight girls who find themselves marked as the ugliest or prettiest girl from each class on the mysterious annual list. Vivian discussed the real life story that was the inspiration of the book, the effect of YouTube on body image in teenage girls, as well as her writing process and motivations for writing. The audio of the discussion can be found at http://libguides.dbq.edu/thelist 

UD Mental Health Counselor Tabitha Bartelme said she joined the book club to meet more people on campus and the interaction with authors has been an added perk. "Our conversation with Siobhan was refreshing. She was so honest about her own self-identity that it brought more meaning to her book," Bartelme said. "Getting the opportunity to interact with an author really brings a new element to reading for me."

Like non-young adult fiction, the YA genre has dystopian, realistic fiction, fantasy, historical, and graphic novels. Throughout the course of the school year, the group tries to read books from each of the various genres. All of the books and extra content provided to the book club can be found on the club's website, http://libguides.dbq.edu/UDYoungAdult .

Last year's reading of the dystopic novel, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was the most popular selection with 39 people requesting a copy of the book.  In addition to students, many faculty and staff members also participate in the club. Last year, of the 50 participants, 16 were faculty/staff and 34 were students.