FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Some readers most enjoy studying science fiction, while others like poring over political literature. And then there are those who love curling up with a classic novel.
In an age of advanced technology and e-readers, some might assume that traditional book gatherings have become a thing of the past.
For years, however, and in some cases, decades, Frederick County bookworms have gathered face to face to discuss books within favored genres. Most groups, whether tailored to men, women, teens or couples, meet on a monthly basis, usually at members' homes or at one of the Frederick County public libraries to discuss works of fiction, nonfiction and others.
Frederick resident Candy Greenway is active in three book clubs, all of which are tailored to a particular audience. The Monday Night Book Club has been meeting for roughly 50 years, she said, although she and her husband, J.J., both in their 50s, have been part of the group for about five. The club meets once a month and is designed for couples, who are asked to join, she added.
Wednesday nights, Greenway, who describes herself as a voracious reader, meets with an all-women's book group of about 20 participants. This group, too, has been in existence for several decades and is invite-only, she said.
"The group selects some pretty intense literature," Greenway said. "We've read some works by Dante, selections of poetry, fiction, history ..."
Greenway has also attended a much less formal book club at the C. Burr Artz Public Library in downtown Frederick for about 10 years, she said. This group engages in a casual open discussion about the selections they choose and generally will give each work a grade based on how much -- or little -- they enjoyed it, she added.
J.J. Greenway is a member of Frederick's Little Boys Book Club, an all-men invite-only group that reads fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on nonfiction.
Another book club that has been around for many years meets at the Middletown Public Library. Middletown resident Jerry Shea has been meeting with the group for about 10 years, although when originally approached about coming on board, he told a friend he "wasn't into that kind of thing," Shea said in a recent phone interview.
"I went to the first one and have now only missed less than 10 meetings ever," he said.
"You look at a book differently when you are going to discuss it," Shea said. "You tend to be a little more attentive to the nuances; you examine the structure and try to construct your own little SparkNotes."
About three years ago, the Middletown group, which primarily focuses on the classics, such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Moby-Dick," also began reading one play a year as a group. The group typically divides the character parts and will read through the play while gathered at a member's home, Shea said.
Other groups, rather than focusing on novels or best-sellers, read books by specific authors or inspired by their beliefs.
One such group is the Maryland Revolution Book Club, whose membership consists of mostly Frederick County residents, said organizer Jeff Keller. The club was started in 2008, following the presidential election and, specifically, the Ron Paul campaign.
Keller was among area residents volunteering their time to campaign for Paul throughout the Baltimore and Washington suburbs, he said. Kathryn Muratore, a libertarian blogger, started the book club after the campaign, as she, Keller and others believed they could channel their energies following the election into educating one another and others about Paul's beliefs and ideas. The first book they read and discussed was "The Revolution: A Manifesto," by Paul himself, and they've continued to read solely works that Paul has been inspired by. Most deal with the Austrian school of economics, philosophy, politics and history, Keller said.
The coed group of about a dozen members, who range in age from their 20s to about 70, meets monthly at a different member's home, Keller said. Several times, the group has been joined, either physically or via Skype, by authors who have written about these subjects, he added.
"For the majority of us, this is just our great interest and passion," Keller said. "And we enjoy each other's company as much, if not more, than the books we read."
Another, the C.S. Lewis Society of Frederick, have been together for about six years, said founder Corey Kinna, 37.
The group began with a discussion of Lewis' book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and the movie inspired by it, Kinna said. From that initial group, the society developed.
"He hits every genre -- fantasy fiction, nonfiction, philosophical, theological ... so it makes for an interesting group," Kinna said.
The group has read all but about 10 to 15 books by Lewis, and after they get through them all, they may read some of his academic works, Kinna said. The group discusses a few works by J.R.R. Tolkien as well, because Lewis and Tolkien were "good buddies" at Oxford University, Kinna said. Much like the Maryland Revolution Book Club, Frederick's C.S. Lewis Society has been joined by visiting and local authors who have written on the subject.
Teen programs in Frederick County Public Libraries have also expanded their book club offerings in the past year. Becky Stone, young adult programmer at the Middletown Public Library, started the Not Book Group Book Group last year, which is to resume in September. The purpose was to make the group casual enough so young men and women (ages 12 to 18) aren't intimidated or discouraged by people who read quickly, Stone said. She lets the pre-teens and teens pick their own titles (around a designated theme) and assures them that if they don't have time to finish, they can still attend the meeting to take part in a discussion and hands-on activity.
"The point is to encourage everyone, no matter how much or what they are reading, to come and talk about it," Stone said.
C. Burr Artz is also rolling out a new program this fall for pre-teens and teens called Blind Date with a Book, developed by teen librarian Melissa Rabey.
"I liken it to speed dating, but with books," she said. "There will be a range of books concealed in brown paper bags with a very short description of the book written on the bag. The kids will have about two minutes to read it and then will rotate to the next book. Then, they will rank the ones they were exposed to and will be matched up with something that they will hopefully enjoy."
Rabey said she will include fiction, nonfiction and most likely even graphic novels in the bags.
"The idea is that it's going to be purely about looking at the story, not what the cover looks like, or whether it's a 'boys' book or 'girls' book ... to encourage kids to go beyond what they normally pick up," Rabey added.
Rabey hopes the program will offer a fun, enlightening and educational outlet for teens, and as Greenway pointed out about the book clubs she attends, it's about camaraderie.
"I think a book club and talking about literature is the true bridge to friendship," Greenway said. "I have met some of the closest friends through being involved ... and I always walk away feeling like a better person, like I learned something valuable."
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com