Book Club Touring: Everyone’s Welcome and it’s Never the Same

You never know who you might meet at the Okanagan Regional Library’s Kelowna branch book club. Being a public, or open club, there are usually a few newcomers mixed in with the regulars.

“Sometimes they come because they love the book, sometimes because they’re new in town,” said Fern Teleglow, head librarian of the 1380 Ellis Street branch.

Fern has led the eight-year-old club for the past six years, pulling from a variety of genres to keep it broad enough to appeal to a wide audience.

“I try to focus mostly on Canadian lit but usually include a mystery and/or science fiction and one non-fiction title. In the summer months I’ve been doing a theme – one year we did international mysteries, last year we did time travel. It’s all about getting people to read things they wouldn’t normally read. Sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t,” she said.

She tries to pick books that the library has a number of copies of, that are available in paperback and, preferably, that there’s a reader’s guide available for.

This month, a group of eight bibliophiles, including Fern (top left), met to discuss The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill. Judging from the comments, the book sounds at once compelling, disturbing and thought provoking.

Averaging between six and nine people each month – the biggest turnout was about 20 people, for A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, but Fern thinks that’s too many for a good discussion – the meeting is fairly informal. Everyone has a chance to share their opinion, and when that winds down Fern pulls out some questions.

Unlike private book clubs, which require an invitation to be a part of, everyone is welcome to the library meetings, held in the meeting room off the lobby. If you only want to come occasionally it’s okay – and the library supplies the snacks. And it’s free.

The regular club runs from September to April, meeting the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. Next month’s selection is Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder.

– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier

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