An interview with Emma Pope, facilitator for Western Howard County Seniors Book Club.
How was the club started? It started originally as a library outreach program to the Glenwood Senior Center. We're located almost adjacent to each other. But the center got crowded so we decided we'd be happier meeting at the library. There's a lot more space, and it's quieter.
How long have you been meeting? For two-plus years. I started being the leader just last October.
How many people come? We have about 12 people who are officially members of the group, and we have anywhere from six to 10 come each month. They're very diligent ladies. If they can't come, they'll call me and ask me to save a book for them and they'll come by to get it. They're very conscientious to phone in advance and tell me if they won't be able to attend.
What are you reading now? We're reading The World Below by Sue Miller.
How does the club select books? It's a complicated process. The facilitators propose books, and Natalie Weikart, adult programming coordinator for the library system, reviews the selections to make sure that no two clubs are reading the same book at the same time and to make sure we have enough copies.
What kinds of books do club members like most? They like diversity. They liked Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, which is quite serious and depressing. It was about World War II and the Japanese internment. The members had been alive back then, but they didn't know about the internment at the time because of censorship by the government. This led to a big discussion of their own personal experiences about the war, their rationing and the recipes they used because of the rationing. But they also like reading the humorous Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross.
What are the discussions like when they don't like a book? They still like to talk about it. Sometimes the discussion is more interesting when they don't like the book - it's more lively. They didn't like the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. They thought it was too contrived. Things just happened too conveniently. They also didn't like Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It had a lot of twists and turns. It's what I call mystical realism, and it had a lot of story elements that were difficult to explain.
Were the members friends before the club started? A lot of them knew each other from the senior center. Some of them are neighbors, and two of them are sisters.