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Home arrow Features arrow Living Well arrow Book club members share books, laughs, and maybe even lunch

Book club members share books, laughs, and maybe even lunch

Members of the Literary Lunch Bunch shared their favorite Christmas-themed books during their December meeting. Members pictured here are, from left, Mardelle Ebell, Mary Boyer, Joan Miller and Julie Johnson. This book club was founded in 1975 by Betty Kuhl, and the group has only had about 20 members in the last 32 years, with about 10 at a time. The club inspired Kuhl to open her bookstore, Betty's Books. She had a write-up about the Literary Lunch Bunch published in "The Book Group Book" by Ellen Slezak. A successful book group depends on a shared love of books, Kuhl said. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr).
Members of the Literary Lunch Bunch shared their favorite Christmas-themed books during their December meeting. Members pictured here are, from left, Mardelle Ebell, Mary Boyer, Joan Miller and Julie Johnson. This book club was founded in 1975 by Betty Kuhl, and the group has only had about 20 members in the last 32 years, with about 10 at a time. The club inspired Kuhl to open her bookstore, Betty's Books. She had a write-up about the Literary Lunch Bunch published in "The Book Group Book" by Ellen Slezak. A successful book group depends on a shared love of books, Kuhl said. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr).

By LISA BRITTON

Baker City Herald

Jane Hutton says belonging to a book clubs helps her explore genres outside her favorites of mysteries and histories.

"Different authors than I usually read. You try something out of your normal area," she says.

Hutton belongs to the Literary Lunch Bunch, a book club founded in 1975 by Betty Kuhl.

Two book groups formed that year out of the Association of American University Women — one of younger women and one of older women.

The latter of those two clubs — the Literary Lunch Bunch — has sustained itself, and only 20 members have joined its ranks in the past 32 years.

Though she was technically the founder, Kuhl is quick to credit other original members — Leona Fleetwood and Laura Hayse, to name a few — for keeping the club going strong.

The club keeps a steady 10 members because that's how many can sit comfortably around a kitchen table, Kuhl says with a smile.

The Literary Lunch Bunch meets once a month at a member's house. Each person brings a sack lunch, and the hostess provides tea, coffee and dessert.

"We meet promptly at noon and most of us stay until 2," Kuhl says.

Books are not the first order of business.

"Of course there's that social little bit where you see what happened in the last month," Kuhl says.

Kuhl decided to open a bookstore in 1979, which made it easier to get books for the club.

Plus, she just likes books.

"Every year I bought a lot of books for my kids," she says.

But back to the book club.

There are two topics that don't get discussed: religion and politics.

Rather that choose a particular book for the month, the members choose an author and pick from that writer's collection of written works.

Then the discussion begins.

"Usually we're pretty genial," Hutton says. "At our age we don't take things too seriously."

Baker boasts about 10 book clubs these days, says Carolyn Kulog, who is Kuhl's daughter and owns Betty's Books along with her husband, Tom.

This past October, all the book groups were invited to the second Friday Literary Night to discuss the travel memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

And here was the catch: clubs were divided and mixed up so everyone discussed the book with people who weren't in their club.

"I thought that was wonderful, and hope they do that more than once a year," Hutton says.

The gathering also welcomed people interested in joining a club or starting a new one.

Though every group has a different approach, Kulog has these suggestions for forming a book club:

First, find members.

Next, have a meeting to decide: the type of books everyone wants to read (fiction, nonfiction, biographies, histories, etc.); a meeting time; whether or not to share food and drinks; how to structure a discussion; and how to choose books.

Next, get to reading — and adjust the club guidelines if needed.

Kuhl says it takes a commonality among members to make a club successful.

"A real interest in books, not just another organization," she says. "And a desire to learn."

To find out more about local book clubs, inquire at Betty's Books, 1813 Main St.

"I'll do what I can to put people in contact with others who are interested in starting or joining a group," Kulog said.

Popular picks of local book groups:

Fiction:

"Whistling Season" by

Ivan Doig

"Water for Elephants"

by Sara Gruen

"Suite Francaise" by

Irene Nemirovsky

Non-fiction:

"Eat, Pray, Love" by

Elizabeth Gilbert

"Glass Castle" by

Jeannette Walls

"Three Cups of Tea" by

Greg Mortenson and

David Oliver Relin

 
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