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March 20, 2014 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-03-20

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metro >> on the cover

Book clubs are perfect for blending literature with friendship.

Shari S. Cohen I Special to the Jewish News


Janice Salter, a teacher from Farmington
Hills, was an early member. "We have chosen
books that I normally wouldn't have chosen
myself, and they are great choices, and I
enjoy catching up with the girls," she said.
Dana Patchak, a West Bloomfield real
estate agent, co-founded a book group 16
years ago because she was "on a treadmill
of work and kids and work and kids and
wanted to shake it up and do something with
women:' Initial members were mostly related
— sisters and sisters-in-law — but other
friends joined soon after.
"I joined a book club because my mother
was in a book club for more than 50 years:'
said Robin K. Siman, a dentist who lives in
Bloomfield Hills. "Six of these friends came
to her 90th birthday party:' Her late mother,
Rhea Klein, and several of her friends contin-
ued to read and share audio books late in life.
Siman said her group began about 19
years ago and has "bonded together to have
a beautiful friendship:' Their group sponsors
an author at the JCC Jewish Book Fair.
Book groups typically meet monthly and
usually include snacks or a casual lunch,
although one club meets during a gourmet
luncheon hosted by alternating members.
Another local book group was started by
members of the Eleanor Roosevelt Hadassah
chapter. While Hadassah membership is
required and books often have a Jewish
theme or author, the group meets at mem-
bers' homes and is self-run.
"We read mostly contemporary fiction that
is available from the library and meet over
lunch at someone's home said Meredith
Band of Huntington Woods.

High Tech Enhancements

Technology has expanded the reach of book
groups as some members who are out-of-
town on meeting dates and others who
have moved out of the area can participate
via computer, using Skype software. For
example, Bookworms, a book club that grew
from a group of friends at Congregation B'nai
Moshe in West Bloomfield, uses Skype to
include member Andie Simons, who moved
to Seoul, South Korea, for several years for
her husband's job. In addition, authors' web-
sites and online video interviews bring a new

JCC Library Director Fran Menken holds a microphone to the phone so book club
members can hear the author speak about her work.

Marcia Baum of Detroit expresses her
view at the Somerset book group.

dimension to group discussions.
Group coordinators can communicate
meeting logistics easily through email or
texts, and some groups have started their
own websites. Meanwhile, Kindles, Nooks
and tablet applications enable readers to
download many books at a lower cost than
purchasing an actual volume.

Facilitator Expertise

Many private book clubs and most of those
affiliated with Jewish organizations have paid
facilitators who help choose books, provide
background information about the selected
books and authors, and lead discussions. Fees
for some popular facilitators range from $125
to $175 per meeting. The Somerset book
group has an annual fee of $80 per year per
member to pay their facilitator. Book groups
typically collect "dues" once or twice a year.
The Somerset group led their own dis-
cussions for many years, but some felt they
weren't getting as much out of it as they
could. Salter suggested professional facilita-
tor Adele Robins, who works with 30 book
clubs. Members quickly agreed that she
added a lot to the discussion.
"She was a good fit and organized us:'
Salter said.

Members of the Bookworms book group gather at the West Bloomfield Public
Library. Despite time differences, member Andie Simons, who now lives in Seoul,

South Korea, can join in by Skype.

What local book groups are reading: A Thousand White Women: The Journals
of May Dodd by Jim Fergus; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Henry Ford's War
on Jews by Victoria Woeste; The Little Russian by Susan Sherman; and In the
Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik

Good Book on page 10


March 20 • 2014

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