Rotary Club Commemorates Literacy Month
Book clubs in neighborhoods, libraries and bookstores are alive, well and thriving in Chautauqua County.
September is the official International Rotary Club Literacy Month around the world and has also been proclaimed as Chautauqua County Book Club Month here, locally, by County Executive P.J. Wendel. Wendel was on hand at the weekly Rotary meeting to present an official proclamation supporting literacy here and around the world.
The Rotary Club of Jamestown’s Literacy Committee has always taken a keen interest in fostering free reading programs and opportunities throughout Chautauqua County. The proliferation of book clubs in Chautauqua County is one of the area’s hidden gems, according to Rotary officials. To find out more about local clubs, members of the Rotary Literacy Committee decided to contact some of the area’s many book clubs during the months of June and July. Rotary members visited book club meetings and interviewed many of their members to find out more about them. What the committee discovered was that no matter the differences in the clubs might be, there is one common experience shared by them all: a strong sense of friendship and positive purpose in sharing literature from novels to biographies, history to drama, and science to science fiction.
Many of the area book clubs are made up of six to 10 members, with several having 25 or 30 members. The clubs are as varied as their membership. Meeting places vary from homes to churches, restaurants and libraries. Some book clubs don’t meet in the summer months and some meet only in the summer. Most choose books to read to discuss among its members. One club sponsored by Novel Destinations Book Store in Jamestown has its individual members read their own choice of books based on a given topic. For instance, the March theme was green, so the variety of books went from money to the environment to anything Irish. Their upcoming topic for September will be banned books. There is even a Zen book club for the metaphysically minded.
Connie Guronski of the Bemus Point book club shared that their club has a fixed membership of 12 and has been meeting for 21 years in individual homes.
“We started with a core group of teachers and nurses who began this book club prior to retiring so that we would have a group that focused on the topics we were all interested in,” she said.
In a very typical sentiment, Bill Downe, a member of Summer Books in Jamestown, said, “It is hard to overstate the sense of warmth and fun that comes from meeting regularly with people dedicated to reading and understanding good books.”
Rotary officials said there is a list of book clubs available on the Chautauqua Cattaraugus County Library System at www.cclsny.org/book-clubs.
The Rotary Club of Jamestown has a history of supporting literacy within the Jamestown public school system in shared reading development programs and supports free bookshelves in three area laundromats. For more information, visit www.jamestownnyrotary.org.