Book club opens attendees’ minds to new titles and thoughts

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Created this summer, the McGregor Public Library’s book club is now meeting bi-monthly. Meeting times are set for the fourth Tuesday of those months, at 5:30 p.m., and copies of the books are available at the library. The group has largely focused on the classics, but is open to suggestions. (Photo by Audrey Posten)


Over the past few weeks, the North Iowa Times has highlighted some of the unique programs and activities offered regularly at the McGregor Public Library. Our third feature focuses on the new book club.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

“People are still so invested in [Jane Eyre]. She’s a great heroin because she’s an ‘every woman,’” reflected Michelle Pettit.

“It’s almost archetypal,” agreed Liza Ehlers Paizis.

The two are among the handful of people gathered around a table in the McGregor Public Library’s meeting room for the monthly book club. Since this summer, the program has encouraged these spirited, meaningful discussions on some of the most classic novels, such as the January selection, Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.”

Pettit, the library’s director, said there had been previous attempts to establish a book club.

“Every so often, someone would ask,” she shared, but patrons’ literary interests never quite aligned enough to make it happen.

It’s easier, she added, if participants are “generally interested in the same sort of things.”

Then, several months ago, Christopher Fitzgerald proposed the idea.

“He wanted to read more classics,” Pettit said.

“All I knew was I didn’t want to read ‘Fifty Shades of Gray,’” he quipped.

This time, the book club idea stuck.

“It was so exciting to see the poster,” said Donna Horsfield, who’s been attending from the start.

Husband and wife Todd Ehlers and Liza Ehlers Paizis were lured in by “Jane Eyre,” a mutual favorite.

So far, the book club has tackled “I, Claudius,” by Robert Graves, as well as “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens.

“We’ve had some challenging reads,” Pettit remarked.

Moving forward, she said the group will meet bi-monthly, in order to give members more time to read and digest the material. Meeting times are set for the fourth Tuesday of those months, at 5:30 p.m., and copies of the books are available at the library.

March’s read will be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

“This one will be totally different from ‘Jane Eyre,” Ehlers Paizis noted, “very masculine.”

That variety was what appealed most to Fitzgerald about a book club.

“I don’t mind other perspectives,” he said.

In May, the book club will take on “Moby-Dick,” by Herman Melville.

They’re open to future title suggestions, Pettit said. 

There’s no pressure to be a “literature major” to read or discuss the books.

“You just have to be interested in books,” said Horsfield.

Pettit agreed, stating, “I’m a big proponent of reading for enjoyment.”

Even if it’s something you’re not sure you’ll enjoy, you could be surprised once you begin reading.

“You can find things you would never consider reading or have thought of,” Ehlers Paizis shared.

Attendees agreed it wasn’t difficult to find details about the book to discuss.

For Pettit, the back-and-forth—the sharing of ideas and different perspectives—is energizing.

“I found it remarkably easy,” added Ehlers. “This was fun.”

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