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Book Club: Isn't that an Oxymoron?

Randi Hutter EpsteinI know you're never supposed to say never (who knows what life will bring) but here's something that I will never-ever do. And I mean it. I will never join a book club. I don't care if an Ivy League English professor moderates the discussion or it's filled with literati.

I'm not a club person to begin with and, honestly, I just don't get the whole notion of having one about books. Why do I want a gaggle of readers dictating my literature? Picking a book--I mean truly immersing in one--is one of the few things in life that comes without any ties. Everything else has strings attached. I must meet deadlines (and read relevant literature for them). I'm obligated to my husband, four children, two dogs, three goldfish, and one tortoise--all of whom require varying degrees of food, walks, and nurturing. 


An Evening in the Company of Alexander McCall Smith

An endless supply of quotes exist telling us we should do what we love in life. Though many are cliché, I found myself rooting around for just the right one after hearing Alexander McCall Smith read from his latest book, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. Having read most of the books in his No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, I was eager to see and hear in person the man who brought me the much adored Precious Ramotswe. As I entered the Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor, it was evident that I was not alone.

Since I probably haven't had the pleasure of listening to someone read to me since kindergarten carpet time, it was with happy nostalgia that I sat cross-legged and elbow to elbow on the bookstore floor, listening to the cadenced voice of Mr. McCall Smith. Bewitched by his lilt and laughter, he quickly transformed the packed room of overwrought adults into a sea of sunny, eager faces as he read his favorite passages from Tea Time.


My First Book Club

I'm not a joiner by nature, but when my place of employment started a book club, I thought, what the heck, I should get to know my co-workers better, and resolved to attend. And so I appeared at the appointed hour in the appropriate conference room.

Looking around the room that first meeting, I saw to my horror that more than half of the attendees were members of the senior staff who wouldn't know me from Eve. I wondered if I was in the right place.

"Excuse me, is this the book club?"

"It's not a book club. The word 'club' connotes exclusivity. We're a book group."

Uh oh...

I should have realized off the bat that this wouldn't be the fun, gossipy kind of book group so many people enjoy.  Something's gotta be fishy when Management sponsors a book club.  Somehow I missed the announcement that its focus would be "diversity."  (I found out later that someone had set a goal that the company would hold a certain number of events each year to sponsor diversity in the workplace, with some percentage of employees attending at least one event annually.  It was all very political.) 


Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz

Davina Morgan-Witts, BookBrowse editor

Since the first publicly-funded library opened in the USA in 1833, many generations of children have been inspired and nurtured by local librarians - none more so than the two generations of children in Old Greenwich, Connecticut who have had the privilege to be members of the Young Critics' Club at Perrot Memorial Library.

The club (actually, two clubs, one for grades 4-5 and one for 6-8) was founded by librarian Kate McClelland over 25 years ago (the oldest "Young Critics" are now in their 40s) and up until this week was run by Kate, her colleague Kathy Krasniewicz, and library director Mary Clark.

That was until yesterday when an apparently drunk driver veered into an airport bus on its way to Denver airport, killing two of the passengers, identified as Kathy Krasniewicz, 54 and Kate McClelland, 71 - who were returning home from the American Library Association's Midwinter meeting. Greenwich's local newspaper, The Greenwich Times, has more details.


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The Cairo Affair