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147 books ...and still reading

Book Club members Susan Heusser-Ladwig, Pat DuBord, Renee Stangenes, Marcia Nelson, Jan Anderson, Pat Provo and Betty Ziegler, left to right, discussed their December book, “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” at the library last week. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS

Since November of 2001, bibliophiles have been meeting at the Perham Area Public Library on the second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m.

“There were a couple of people who had said they’d like to be in a book club,” said Susan Heusser-Ladwig, the head librarian, about how the club got started.

She knew of other libraries at the time that had book clubs, so she figured, ‘Why not?’ and the local group started reading.

“The library book club is open to anyone that would like to participate, and we

 usually get a wider variety of perspectives because of that,” said Heusser-Ladwig in an email to the Focus.

This variety is what attracted club members Pat Provo and Celie Soderstrom. Both women have participated in the club since it began.

“I appreciate the fact that, by reading books picked as a group, it forces me to broaden my horizons,” said Soderstrom. “I generally don’t read ‘classics,’ but we try to read at least one per year (in the club).”

“I’ve been reading books I never would have picked on my own,” Provo said.

The variety also reveals itself in discussions about the month’s book.

“If I read a book and don’t particularly like it, I can hear what other people thought and what they liked,” said Soderstrom. “Sometimes they pick up on something I didn’t.”

For December, the club members read “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” by Clint Hill.

Some members didn’t care for the book because it detailed the extravagant lifestyle lived by Jacqueline Kennedy.

“I kind of got the impression that it was hard to stop Jackie from doing what she wanted,” said one person.

“She had a different personality than what we were led to believe, behind the scenes,” said another.

Some members were surprised by how much time and money Mrs. Kennedy spent traveling for unofficial reasons while her husband was in office, and the discussion branched off from there.

“I don’t think that could happen now,” surmised one book club member, while another added, “Well, I don’t think she really went as a representative of the government.”

About one-third of the  books the club reads every year are recently published. Some are historical, others are memoirs or fiction.

“Sometimes, we all hate the book,” said Patsy Holper. That’s when the comments can get especially … interesting.

Provo’s favorite book that the club read was “John Adams,” by David McCullough.

“It was enlightening, and really great about explaining what our forefathers went through,” she said.

The club’s book list is available at the library, along with several copies of the month’s book.

No one is obligated to show up for each meeting. Sometimes, said Heusser-Ladwig, someone might pop in to discuss one book, and never come back again. Others come when they find a book particularly interesting. Then, there is the core group of people who are always there – even if they didn’t read the book.

“People are welcome to come whenever they would like,” said Heusser-Ladwig.