Library helps to save money

Book club

September 19, 2002

An interview with Susan Budden, founder of the Half Heimers GALs book club.

Why are you called Half Heimers? (She chuckles.) We're ladies in our 50s. We're halfway to Alzheimer's. We're the Half Heimers GALs - G-A-L for get a life - book club.

What book are members reading this month? When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. ... It basically is about a person who is working as a cop inspector, like the kind you would have for Scotland Yard. And it starts out as an older man thinking back on his life in which he became an orphan living in Shanghai, where both of his parents disappear one after the other. And he is looking to find out what happened to them. And it also takes place in a historical situation with the Nazis coming to power and how China fits in with it, so it's very complex.

How did you come to choose it? In the beginning of the club, we chose a lot of the books from Oprah's list, and as we read them, we got tired of them because they sort of all had the same theme and were very depressing. ... Now, mostly, we get books from word of mouth. Book clubs like to share their lists.

This particular book [When We Were Orphans] we got from a library list when we decided to join up with the library ... to get our books more easily and not pay for them. ... It's been great because we used to get hardback books to read new stuff, and it became very expensive. ... Now we give the library a list of books that we'll be reviewing on certain dates, and they gather them up for us, which has been a wonderful thing because now we can review new books without it being costly.

Over the years, has there been a real favorite? Yeah, I'd say the biggest favorite was Cold Mountain. It takes place at the time of the Civil War. And it basically follows a man through his travels where he's meeting lots of different characters and interacting with them. ... At the same time, he's a hero figure. ... He's always running into people he has to help, and it's at his own peril, and you're rooting for him, and you're loving all the different characters. ... And you love the setting, and the writing is an easy read.

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