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Paula Walters | North Central Regional Library’s book clubs have plenty to talk about

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Provided photo Members of the Manson Women’s Book Club.

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop or a restaurant and come across a group of people having an animated conversation and each one has a copy of the same book in their hands? Most likely you are witnessing one of the many book clubs in Wenatchee.

North Central Regional Library has a unique book club system. We actually have a book club collection of over 1,000 titles. The collection is unique as it is made up of what the book clubs request. There are copies of current fiction, older novels, classics, non fiction, biographies, memoirs, junior fiction, even a few graphic novels in the collection.

NCRL is a large library district consisting of 29 branches. Most branches have at least one book club. Wenatchee has a total of 91 clubs. On the average most clubs have 10 members. That is a lot of people that enjoy to read and enjoy sharing their reading with good friends.

Recently I had a discussion with one of the clubs in Manson. The leader is Cindy Simmons, our Manson librarian. The Manson Women’s Book Club started 10 years ago with 10 members. The first book they read was “A Town Like Alice” by Nevil Shute. Since then, the members have grown to 15 and they feel that is the limit. They want everyone to have a chance to talk, and with more members this might not be the case.

Other Manson patrons can join other existing clubs, or start a new club. In the fall the group meets for a potluck, and of course their book discussion. The December meeting is another potluck and a book exchange. They have become very good friends. Cindy says the group prides itself in the fact that they have never purchased a book for the club. Every book has been from the library book club collection.

Most of our book clubs plan ahead sending me lists of the books they want to read for the year. Manson is no exception to this. They are scheduled through the end of this year and I imagine soon I will be receiving a new list for next year! All members of the group suggest books they may have heard about from friends, relatives or book reviews. As the book club coordinator, I have often sent up a bin of 25 to 30 review books that the club can preview at their next meeting.

The recent discussion I had with Cindy was about the last book the group read and reviewed. Keep in mind that in all groups some people love the book, some people think it was “OK but nothing I would recommend,” and some people may dislike the book. This particular book no one liked. One of the members even had nightmares!

But what I want to stress about this club is they all struggled through and read the book to the finish and guess what? It was their best book discussion ever. They had so much to discuss and I bet it was a lively discussion.

One of the wonderful things about being in a book club is that you will read books that normally you might not and many of these truly enrich your life. I cannot say enough about the joy of being in a book club nor can I say enough about NCRL’s many book clubs. They are all wonderful.

Every six weeks, I send a bookmark of Book Club Favorites to the branches. Included on the current book mark is “Maine” by J Courtney Sullivan. Our Staff Club reviewed the book. It was a wonderful discussion about a dysfunctional family. Three generations of women coming together to their family cabin in Maine, each with secrets, hopes and fears.

“Until They Bring the Streetcars Back” by Stanley Gordon West, is the story of Cal Grant. The setting is 1948, St. Paul, and Cal is drawn into a strange and secret alliance. This is a love story and mystery that is hard to put down.

“Why Be Happy When you Could Be Normal” by Jeanette Winterson is her memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It tells how a painful past, that the author thought she had overcome, rose to haunt her later in life. This memoir is witty, defiant and celebratory. Look for the current book mark at your library branch.

Paula Walters is the adult outreach librarian for North Central Regional Library.