Mom and I have always shared books. Our favorite thing to do when I come into town for a visit is to first head to our favorite restaurant for our traditional bowl of tomato macaroni soup with freshly baked rolls; then we head for the bookstore! Neither of us needs any more books, but you know how that goes.
At 87 years old, you think my Mom would be slowing down a bit, but not much, especially when it comes to books and reading! In 1997, while walking in the mall, she came upon a display about a new senior center just built in the area. Alongside the model of the new structure was a list of volunteers needed. “Book Club Leader” caught her eye, and she has filled that position for the last 10 years.
The new computer classes filled up pretty fast, but the book club membership list was a little slower to fill. It did fill, however, and she has had 14 devoted members (some new ones joined later and occasionally someone leaves) for those many years. This group has read and discussed a very diverse selection of books.
It’s a lot of work being a book club leader like Mom. The senior center keeps asking her to fill out a form on the number of hours she puts into this volunteer job, but how do you account for the constant reading of books to find something that would be great for the book group? And then, once she has chosen a book, she must check with the library to make sure they have enough copies. Then she re-reads the book, timing it so she finishes it again just before the book group meets. Some of the books they’ve chosen are real chunksters! I’ve seen her copy of a book to be discussed, and it’s marked with tons of those little post-it note tabs. I don’t think there’s a form big enough to show all the effort put into reading, re-reading, thinking about the book, preparing for the discussion, and then actually facilitating the meeting.
I sat in on one of their book discussions once when visiting her and found it to be a delightful experience. They had just read a book by Charles Lindbergh’s daughter (a favorite author of mine), and their discussion was lively! There was a wealth of experience, knowledge, and opinion in the group.
Mom calls herself “a selfish volunteer” because she is doing something she absolutely loves to do–read and share books. I just call her “amazing,” and consider myself the luckiest daughter in the world to have a mother that has shared her passion for books with me all my life.