Hall book club builds friendships, promotes reading
April 22, 2012
As members of the book club arrived at Hall High School’s library, they were candid with their opinions of their most recent read.
Most didn’t like the writer’s style. Some had struggled to finish it, while others skipped ahead to read just the ending. Sometimes that happens, coordinator Teresa Colmone said.
Since the club was founded in 2010, not every book has been a hit. But the club itself is another story. More than a dozen of the club’s approximately 20 regular members still came out to hear one another’s opinions and insight, to tend the friendships they’ve grown and to find out what title is next.
The book club started as an outreach from Hall administration to build a sense of community among parents. About half a dozen people signed up at school registration at the start of the 2010-11 school year, and the group quickly grew to its current membership, mostly mothers of current Hall students or recent graduates. Colmone said the main goal of the group is to increase literacy.
“If you see parents are reading, and parents are enjoying reading, that might catch on with the children,” she said. Members of the club sometimes share their books with their children, and Colmone, who teaches English at Hall, has seen a few students turn in book reports on those novels.
Each month, the club meets to discuss a book members chose together. From murder mysteries to complex parent-child relationships to the lighter May selection, “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,” topics and opinions vary.
An early selection, “The Girls from Ames” by Jeffrey Zaslow, was a choice that Colmone said helped shape the club. The book is based on friendships among a group of women from Iowa.
“That one really solidified the group, because it took everyone to a personal level. They started telling stories about growing up in this community,” Colmone said.
Another book they read, “Still Alice,” focused on the experience of dementia. Colmone said she had thought the book would be a difficult read for some in the group, who have family members suffering from dementia.
“They felt the book had a happy ending, while some of us were trying to figure out which symptoms we have,” Colmone said.
Club members have different reasons for attending.
“It’s all the diversity of the group,” said Norma Mosbach. “We have teachers, we have people from the community, and just to get their opinion — I love it.”
Vicky Knutson agreed.
“I just think it’s fun listening to everyone else,” she said.
Along with Colmone, club members Shannon Urbanski and Tari Sangston said the club pushes them to read books they never would have picked up on their own. In Sangston’s case, “The Hunger Games” was a volume she would have passed over.
“It’s more of a sci-fi, futurist thing,” she said. But she loved the book so much, she eventually went to see the recently released film version.
When the book discussion officially ends, members are in no hurry to leave their meeting. They discuss their children’s extracurricular commitments, arrange their volunteering schedules, and share tips on other good reads.
“People talk about books that we don’t necessarily read as a book club, but I go and find them,” Alice Mueller said.
Participating in the club inspired Dayna Gaeta to apply for her first library card, and Sangston, a librarian, has passed on to patrons recommendations for several of the books the club has discussed. Many other club members share their books with relatives, friends and coworkers, spreading the club’s influence.
“It’s just good office talk,” Urbanski said.
Allison Ryan can be reached at (815) 223-3206 Ext. 131.