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Posted on December 27, 2016 at 6:00 am
Meet Charline and Margy (standing) and Suzanne, Jean, and Winnie (seated)—about half of the Broadway Court Estates Book Club (busy schedules and winter colds prevented others from making it).
I was invited come along to their December meeting by Margy, Public Services Specialist at Spokane Valley Library and facilitator of the group. For several months now, I’ve been on the path to discover all that Spokane County Library District has to offer. When I joined the District in March, I didn’t realize that the library went out into the community for storytimes at child care and early learning centers and for book clubs and to deliver library books to retirement communities and nursing homes.
During the Book Club meeting at Broadway Court Estates, we talked about the book Winter Stroll, by Elin Hilderbrand, the second in a family saga series. The book had a lot of family drama—so different from their own families, which have much less drama, divorce, love triangles, and ex-partners showing up to create havoc.
We also talked about when family members are far away, like those serving abroad in the military, during the holidays. We talked about family traditions and found that nearly everyone had experienced the “white elephant” gift exchange around the Christmas holiday.
I wanted to know a bit more about why they come to Book Club and if they ever get discouraged by a book they aren’t enjoying. Each member was adamant that if they don’t enjoy a book, it wouldn’t stop them from coming to Book Club.
In fact, Charline said that one of the reasons she enjoys Book Club is because she reads books she would never have read otherwise, and often enjoys them. When I mentioned to Suzanne that it sounded like she didn’t like the book we were discussing, she corrected my misinterpretation. In fact she enjoyed the writing and likes many of Hilderbrand’s books. In the case of this particular title, she found the characters immoral and very far from her reality. But as she spoke I noticed a twinkle in her eye and recognized a kindred spirit—someone who enjoys reading to immerse herself into a story that is different from her reality and exciting.
We talked about the types of stories they usually enjoy reading. Historical fiction was at the top of the list, but otherwise they all liked something a little different. Winnie prefers those with animals or pets at the center of the story. Suzanne enjoys true crime stories quite a bit, while Charline likes cozy mysteries without too much gore or grit. Jean will read almost anything, enjoys all sorts of fiction, and finds mysteries are so enthralling that she avoids them because they can really cut into a good night’s sleep.
With such eclectic tastes, the group relies on Margy to pick a variety of books throughout the year. To find the right balance, Margy pays close attention, listening for what the group enjoys and recommends. She’ll often ask our librarians for suggestions of books similar to others the group has enjoyed. We looked at a stack of book options for the upcoming year, including Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It made me wish I was a regular member of the group, so I could see what they think of the books and how they connect (or don’t) with their lives.
As Margy coordinates their reading interests, she also coordinates getting enough books, in various formats such as large print and audio books, for everyone. Plus, the great book and life discussion we shared was prompted by the questions Margy prepared ahead of time. Her efforts make the meeting and discussion interesting for everyone.
As we were leaving, I stopped to chat with Cindy, the Activities Director at Broadway Court Estates. She shared some ideas she had to bring even more people to the Book Club in the coming year (coffee and donuts, yum!). She also showed me their activities calendars (two of them) which are packed full. From wine and cheese tasting, to concerts, to fitness programs, to pinochle, bingo, and poker, to excursions plays and musicals, to movies and Gonzaga basketball in the on-site theater, there is no shortage of fun things to do. Now I’m wondering if it is too soon to start thinking about how and where I want to spend my retirement (my son starts kindergarten next year, so it isn’t too far off. . .).