Book clubs date back to the 1800s—and likely long before that recorded date. They can be found in local bookstores, at libraries, even online, but most often in homes where a group of friends gather to share a good book, interesting conversation and friendship. In 2001, that’s how a group of Quechee residents started theirs. Ann Heimarck, Alice Goldstein and Rosemarie Scibetta wanted to start a book group and discovered that four other women—Karen Tahmousch, Vaughn Glanville, Roberta Epstein and Maywood Giordano—also were thinking of starting one. They came together and since that time they have added members, lost members to moves, including in the past six months Sharon Corrigan, Peggy Jones and Arlyne Berke and original member, Maywood Giordano, who passed away in June.
The group meets once a month for breakfast at one of the 14 members’ homes. After a half an hour or so of chitchat and socializing they begin their discussion, sometimes around the dining room table, other times circling the living room. Each book has a discussion leader who provides background information on the author and then offers some leads to start a discussion.
Rosemarie Scibetta the group’s leader keeps members informed about future meetings, compiles a yearly list of books that the group has read and provides recaps for those that weren’t able attend.
Member Mary Ann Corcoran sums up the camaraderie of the group, “We’re more than a bunch of women who discuss books. We have become some kind of inexplicable family unit.”
And here’s why other members enjoy being part of this “inexplicable family unit,” and the books they’ve enjoyed reading together.
I remember the first book I read when I started with this wonderful group: Time and Again by Jack Finney. I never would have picked that book, but enjoyed it thoroughly. My favorites? Hannah’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson, Call the Darkness Light by Nancy Zaroulis, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot…sorry, I can’t keep to three…The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and many others.
– Diane Ames
What I’m finding out about myself through our book club is that I’m a historical fiction fan. I never would have aligned myself with that genre, but as I looked down the list of what we’ve read, I found myself choosing Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Godwin, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford among my favorite reads. I also enjoyed a non-fiction choice, Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Book club has stretched my enjoyment to places I wouldn’t necessarily have gone by myself!
– Mary Ann Corcoran
As a new member of the book club, I am impressed with the level of commitment, the thoughtful discussions and the willingness of members to stretch their reading experiences. Since I’ve joined, my favorite books among the ones we’ve shared are Still Alice by Lisa Genova and Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Looking back over previous books the club has read, I count among my favorites The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. High praise to a Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevaliar and Invention of Wings by Sue Monk King.
– Gail Ferney
It’s hard to choose just a few favorites but here are mine – a true history and then a blend in historical fiction: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevaliar and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
– Alice Goldstein
Reading books is a wonderful way to experience life and escape the mundane. Fiction can become reality and reality can take the guise of fiction. Our book group has enriched my reading choices and literary perspectives beyond measure! Thank you friends! Hard to pick three favorites but I especially liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah, with the author, Betty Lauer attending our discussion, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford.
– Ann Heimarck
I don’t actually live in Quechee and find the book club to be a wonderful way to connect with a group of lovely ladies. That is not to mention all the reading I would not have been doing without the incentive of our group sharing of thoughts and opinions in a comforting and non-judgmental environment. Some of my favorite books have been Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
– Mary Ann Kaplinsky
A few of my favorites are: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Glass Castles by Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
– Jen Lewis
I love that books take us to places we will never get to and times that are often long past. Three books jumped out at me – Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I’m surprised that they are all non-fiction, but I shouldn’t be. What is more amazing than these books about real people doing extraordinary things, often against all odds?
– Jane Reagan
For me the best determiner of a good book is that I don’t want it to end. And, although I love to get lost in a fiction book, I find the books that stay with me the longest are non-fiction and historical fiction. Some of my favorites through the years are Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Paris, A Love Story, by Kati Marton, and The Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. All are non-fiction and gave me a glimpse: into a better understanding of history during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, a beautiful love story, and scientific information about what eventually became known as stem cells that boggled my mind.
– Rosemarie Scibetta
I’ve loved the opportunity to share books, which have challenged us to examine how we would act in difficult situations. I think about Defending Jacob by William Landay and the discussion we had about what we would have done if confronted with such a heart-wrenching decision. We each bring our own unique experiences and background to the group and our discussions are so rich because of our different histories.
– Jill Tane
I, too, surprised myself at my choice of reading material, two historical fictions and one nonfiction: Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
– Ginny Taylor
I am amazed at the variety of books we have read since 2001 and have discussed with comments, personal experiences and respect for all of our members comments. I probably would not have read such a wide variety and am so grateful for this wonderful experience. It is difficult to mention my favorites but here goes: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Mary: Mrs A Lincoln by Janis Cookie Newman.
– Muriel Steinberg
I guess my favorite is Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, mainly because I might not have read it otherwise. A really great biography!
– Kristin Wood