A group of women from Riverside Christian Reformed Church got together a number of years ago and started a book club. After 96 books and 16 years, the reading club is still going strong with about 15 members. A number of women have come and gone, but the original core group of readers has faithfully remained.

The club meets in the homes of members, so each person gets a chance to host an evening. Everyone is invited to share their opinion of the book and respond to a series of discussion questions found in the books or online.

The most common comment we hear is that the reader was surprised to find out that she enjoyed the book. Most members would not have picked up a particular book if it were not for the reading club.

The first book we read was The Homecoming Man by Hugh Cook. For our tenth anniversary, Mr. Cook graciously agreed to meet with us; he read us some excerpts from the book he was writing at the time.

We drank red bush tea at our evening discussion for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, just like the main character in the book. Potato peel pie was served when we discussed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The night we discussed The Girl With a Pearl Earring (based on a painting by Vermeer), we also had an assignment. Vermeer also painted “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter”; our assignment was to write the letter being read by the lady in the painting.

After we read The Great Divide by T. Davis Bunn, a member of our group wrote the author a letter about our reading club and how much we had enjoyed his book. He responded, and the reply was read aloud at our next meeting.

The night we discussed Sisters in the Wilderness, we were all encouraged to bring along an antique and share its story.

On a few occasions, we watched the movie version together after reading and discussing the book. We’ve watched The Little Prince and Seabiscuit, as well as The Colour of Paradise.

One Christmas, we could only bring food and drink that was mentioned in a story or poem. Each piece was read aloud. This made for interesting food treats. During our Christmas events, we often have traded gifts purchased at a local thrift store.

For our summer meeting, we visit the local park. We choose a theme and encourage members to write their own poem or story or to make a short presentation. Topics have included hats, farming, and travel.

Many books are sad, tragic tales. After a few too many of these stories, we needed some laughter. The book The Good News from North Haven was the remedy. After a 10-year span, we decided we needed to reread it, as we had some newer members, and the older members had such fond memories of all the laughter the book had provided.

On one occasion, we each had to come with our own poems. They were placed in a box and pulled out one at a time to be read. It was fun to guess who had written each poem.

A small sampling of the books we’ve read includes A Wrinkle in Time, Anna Karenina, The Poisonwood Bible, The Kite Runner, The Help, Walking the Bible, Sarah’s Key, Killing Lincoln, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, Nicholas and Alexandra, Lake Wobegon Days, Loving Frank, and Women of the Silk.

The biggest challenge is to make sure that there are enough copies of the book available for the members to get it read in a timely manner. All the surrounding neighborhood librarians are most helpful in getting the books we need through interlibrary loans.

Our biggest joy is just knowing that so many women are reading. The next challenge will be to come up with an idea, book, or event to celebrate when we get to book 100.  

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