An interview with Linda Williamson, a discussion leader for the Miller Midday Book Club.
Why did you start this particular club? Our library wanted to make a daytime book club available to the community. A lot of senior citizens in this neighborhood are avid readers and wanted to participate in a book discussion. Another participant said that there weren't any openings anywhere in other clubs she knew of, so she was glad to come to this one. We were also looking for parents who might drop their kindergartners off at school and want to come in, or people who might want to come on their lunch hour. All ages of adults are welcome.
How has the participation been? We met March, April and May of this year, then took the summer off. We had about five people each month. In September, nine people signed up to attend, but that was the day that Hurricane Isabel hit.
What kinds of books does your club discuss? We want to explore different cultures from around the world. It seems to go over fairly well.
What are you currently reading? We're reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith for October.
What is White Teeth about? It's about three families - one white, one Indian and one mixed race - and how they assimilate into the culture of London, England, from World War II to the present day.
What else have you read? We've read Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.
Why did you select these books? We wanted to start with the culture at the beginning of our country's formation. Founding Brothers is a collection of short biographies on the men who founded the United States. Then Cold Mountain was about the Civil War and the culture of the South, and Snow Falling on Cedars took place during World War II in the northwest United States. It covered the issues of the Japanese internment. The books we selected show interaction and sometimes clashes between people of different cultures.
Why did you choose a nonfiction book over a historical novel set in 18th-century America? We were not ruling out nonfiction, and we thought Founding Brothers would be a good book about how these men laid the groundwork for democracy in the United States. It gave inside information on the politics of the time period and conflicts between the founding brothers and between the colonies. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 and was on The New York Times best-seller list.