Page turners: Friday Forum explores mysteries in New Milford
Mystery lovers of New Milford, your library has what you need. A book discussion group devoted to reading and discussing the Crime Writers Association Dagger Award winners meets the third Friday of every month at the library.
Sally Tornow, the public services librarian, has led discussions on the stories of murder most foul, devious deceptions and convoluted cunning during Friday's meetings since the group began in February.
"We have a really good stalwart crowd of nine to 10 ladies," Tornow said.
The core group is made up of New Milford residents, but one need not be a resident or female to join the discussion. It's just happenstance the regular attendees are all women. All one needs to do is call Tornow ahead of time so she can have enough books available.
Tornow chooses the books from Dagger Award winners in a variety of categories, but she also checks descriptions of the books to determine their discussion worthiness. Sometimes being an award-winning novel is not enough to make a good discussion.
Then again, being a book enjoyed by all doesn't guarantee a good discussion, either.
"The worst books for discussion are the ones everyone likes," Tornow said, "because there's nothing to say. Yeah, it was great!' -- but that's it."
It also helps to have discussion group members reach a comfort level with each other.
"We've learned from experience the need to create a group who are comfortable talking with each other. A core group is needed to continue," she said, but her group can accommodate up to 15 people.
Book selection is made on a month-to-month basis. At each discussion, Tornow provides the book for the next month.
She has enjoyed seeing the group develop. "Watching people become comfortable with each other -- all have very different opinions and reactions to the books. That's the joy of it," she said. "People are beginning to become friends, which is a nice by-product."
She prepares for each meeting by getting question starters and author background information ready, but since Friday Forum members tend to have strong opinions, the group can easily just start in discussing the book.
"We tend to discuss why would this book win the award?" Tornow said. "We read winners from the past, so we discuss what was considered good then versus what is considered good now."
One of the books the group discussed was "Popcorn," by Ben Elton. Tornow described this 1996 Golden Dagger Award winner as a mystery about a person who produced really violent movies, a la Quentin Tarantino. It provoked lively discussion, but most of the women found the book disturbing.
Other selections may not have caused such universal disturbance, but all share a common crime theme.
"It's another frequent discussion topic as to why a book was even considered a mystery," Tornow said, pointing out that some of the selections are classified by other libraries in categories other than "Mystery."
If you want to join the Friday Forum, call Tornow at the New Milford Library,
860-355-1191, ext. 203, or sign up on the Web site, www.biblio.org/newmilford/.
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