Library book club creates community, expands reading horizons

Once a month, a group of avid readers meets at the Page Public Library to spend an hour or so sharing their thoughts about the books they have been reading.

This meeting of the library’s Adult Book Club is led by Megan Marks, and typically attracts anywhere from four to 12 participants.

Whereas most book clubs ask participants to all read the same book in the same month, the Page Public Library’s club is a bit different: Each month there is a theme, and participants are free to choose whatever book they want to read under that theme.  

At the most recent meeting on Jan. 12, the theme was books with one-word titles. There were seven people in the room, plus an eighth who joined via an online video link. Each participant spent a few minutes talking about the book they had read, followed by lively but casual discussion as others chimed in with questions or their own thoughts. 

The “one-word-title” books ran the gamut of genre and subject matter. One reader talked about “Impulse” by Steven Gould, a science fiction novel about a family who possesses innate teleportation abilities. Two historical novels were discussed: “Booth” by Karen Joy Fowler, a fictionalized version of the young life of President Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, and Lauren Groff’s “Matrix,” about the life of a historical 12th century nun.

There was also romance, both classic (Jane Austen’s “Emma”) and modern (“Confess” by Colleen Hoover and “Icebreaker” by Hannah Grace).

Among the nonfiction titles presented were Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” – the harrowing biography of Olympic track star Louis Zamperini, who spent time in a Japanese POW camp during World War II – and “Cherish” by Gary Thomas, a self-help book focused on cherishing, encouraging and appreciating one’s spouse.

Book club participant Kathleen Ward, who had read Hoover’s “Confess,” said the club started about eight years ago. In the beginning, books were chosen based on genre, such as western or romance. Then they started reading through the library stacks from A to Z.

“There were only like three of us to start with and after a while it grew, we got more that came,” she said. “We started reading the stacks, started with the A’s, so it took us two years and two months to go through the stacks.” 

In the first month, for example, everybody came with an author whose name started with A, “but it was very seldom the same book, very seldom the same author.” After the alphabet ran its course, they started the current system of coming up with a theme each month.

Sena Stark, who attended last week’s meeting by video link and read “Unbroken,” said she’s been participating in the book club for about five years and described it as “absolutely fabulous.” 

“I’ve been in other book clubs before, but I really enjoy the laxity of this group. We all have our favorite kind of reading material. We just have our favorites, and we get out of the rut every once in a while, just to venture off when we hear something really interesting,” she said. 

Allison Noonchester is a relative newcomer to the group, having moved to Page last July. She presented “Cherish” at last week’s meeting.  

“When I moved to the community, I wanted to have a sense of community, so joining is not only great to learn about different books to read but to meet all these wonderful people,” she said. “And then learning about other books and styles, I can write down what it is, whose book I’m really interested in and I want to read.” 

Lenore Webber, whose book was Fowler’s “Booth,” said she enjoys the book club because it’s all about reading and because it’s “very casual.” Also, the discussions often satisfy her curiosity about contemporary topics that she might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about.

“There are times of the year I have a very crazy, hectic schedule, but if I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not,” she said.

“If I read a book that was the theme three months ago because I haven’t been here, nobody cares. They care that you’re here, you’re welcome and it’s about the reading. There’s no pressure, so it’s come as you are, be your true self, read what you want to read.” 

The next meeting of the Page Public Library’s Adult Book Club is Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. The theme is “Written by a President.” The meetings are free and open to anyone who wants to participate. 

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