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By Blog Master
Posted: 05/31/2022

The Pasadena Village Book Club

Of all the activities available to us these days, reading can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. Through reading we can learn, whether we read fiction or nonfiction. Reading often brings us a sense of adventure as we see how characters, real or imagined, deal with the ups and downs of their lives. And if you have ever daydreamed about being a writer, reading other writers is a great place to start.

Perhaps you would like to start some sort of reading program, or maybe you would like to read more than you do, but you just can't find the time. If so, perhaps you need a community of other readers with just a bit of structure to help you along the way. A book club may be just what you are looking for.  

The Pasadena Village Book Club has been around since in the first days of the Village some 10 years ago. The group has continued to meet actively about once a month.   

A meeting typically begins with a discussion of the book chosen at the previous meeting.  The discussion begins with each participant (usually 10 or 12 people) speaking briefly about what the book meant to them, what they got out of it, how much they enjoyed it, etc. The person who chose the book starts off the discussion and gives a gentle reminder if someone jumps in before everyone has had a chance to talk. A general discussion follows.

The group sets aside some meeting time to choose the next book. The members themselves propose titles. The group discusses the candidate titles and chooses one as the focus for the following meeting. The group puts any remaining titles in a queue for future consideration. Proposed titles cover a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction. See the list below for examples.  

In some instances, a member may not have read all of the book being discussed. Or perhaps not read the book at all, as in the case of a new member attending the group for the first time. The group never treats these members as “second class citizens”. They can still participate at least by asking questions about the book. As long-time member Linda Stowitts puts it, “If I have not read or finished a book, the discussion either encourages me to read it or confirms my reason for not finishing it.”  Linda adds, “This group is a wonderful way to get to know villagers; conversation is easy and non-confrontational. All are welcome.”

New member Elizabeth Polenzani says “One of the reasons my husband and I joined the Pasadena Village was to meet a new group of active seniors. The Village's Book Club seemed an ideal place to start. Already I have been introduced to twelve new folks and books that I would never think of reading. The discussions are polite, lively and thought-provoking. The members of the village come from amazing backgrounds, adding to thoughtful book club discussions. “

Member John Tuite adds: “I love the book club. The variety of insights are remarkable, but that’s the description of the Village generally: remarkable!”

So, what kinds of books does the group read? Here are a few examples:  

The Book of Eels by Patrick Svensson

Part memoir, science, history, and philosophy, the author explores the life of the most mysterious of creatures, the eel.

Perestroica in Paris by Jane Smiley

A satisfying fairy tale about a curious race horse and the animal friends she makes when she wanders away from her stall and into Paris.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray 

Historical fiction based on the life of JP Morgan’s personal librarian. Belle da Costa Greene began her career in the Princeton library with a specialty in medieval manuscripts before being hired by Morgan. Her life is complicated because she is Black passing as White.

Clark & Division by Naomi Hirahara

Set in Chicago, this novel is built on the struggles of Japanese Americans following their incarceration during WW II.  

Are you interested in making the adventure of reading a part of your life? Or in developing your joy of reading going forward? If so, see more book recommendations on Ms Vyk's Salon blog, purchase these titles through Vromans Bookstore or consider joining as a member of Pasadena Village so you can be part of this dynamic book club!

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