Worried About Running out of Good Reads? Join a Book Club and Find Your Niche on Feb. 11

Posted in Community, Feature, Literary, More Stories

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
January 27, 2016

7. tumblr_nqkqxvYOeg1rq27uuo1_500I have abibliophobia and am not ashamed to admit it. “Abibliophobia” is the fear of not having a good book to read.

Fortunately, I work for Sno-Isle Libraries and have access to a steady supply of great reads and audiobooks that keep me satisfied. Another way a person can dive deeply into the reading spectrum is by joining a book club that fits one’s personal reading taste, or choosing another that broadens the horizon. There are more than 40 book clubs on the island, according to Donna Hood, who is chairing this year’s All Island Book Club gathering on Feb. 11.

Sharon Heath emcees last year’s All Island Book Club event. (photo by Donna Hood)

Sharon Heath emcees last year’s All Island Book Club event. (photo by Donna Hood)

Once a year Whidbey Island book club members gather together to visit, eat and exchange stories. This year, Whidbey Life Magazine will be the host and beneficiary of the All Island Book Clubs event, scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m on Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club on Brooks Hill Road in Langley. Please contact Donna Hood for more information at donnahood@whidbey.com.

Book club members will share their favorite reads of the year, raise funds and—for those who are interested in finding a book club that clicks—provide a way for folks find their book peeps.

Langley resident, Linda Casale, an avid reader and former member of the Book Owls Book Club, originated the idea of the annual all-book club gathering in 2006, along with the help of Donna Hood, Sharon Heath and Karen Krug.

“I like to create events…and so that’s how it started,” Casale wrote recently. “I realized how many book groups there were as I had friends in different ones. Donna and I did the heavy lifting [to launch the first event] and all of the Book Owls were very, very helpful when it came down to ‘getting it done.’ [They’re] a great group of women. Book groups do forge strong long-term relationships. I think we reveal a lot about ourselves when we discuss how we feel about characters and events in a book.”

Donna Hood, Sharon Heath and Linda Casale at 2015 All Island Book Club event (photo by Donna Hood)

Donna Hood, Sharon Heath and Linda Casale at 2015 All Island Book Club event (photo provided by Donna Hood)

Casale added that the all island book club event idea took off. “It was a potluck and then we needed to find a big enough location for all of the groups to come. One year it was at the Whidbey Institute, one or two [others were held] at churches with cafeterias. Our biggest year was the last one with over 120 people attending. That was the first year the men’s book group attended.”

Peter Casale, Linda’s husband, belongs to a men’s book club called the Second Monday Book Dogs. “We started in 2003,” he said… “and the name comes from our original meeting place, The Dog House in Langley, and the fact that we meet on the second Monday of every month. “We currently meet at Cozy’s Roadhouse in Clinton. We don’t cook and it’s not open to new members [since] we’ve found that 12 people is about right. Our current group has been together for five to six-plus years, with about half being founding members.

The crowd at the 2015 All Island Book Club event (photo by Donna Hood)

The crowd at the 2015 All Island Book Club event (photo by Donna Hood)

“We just voted on our favorite 2015 book,” Casale added, “and it was “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Our January book was “The Widow Wave” by Jay Jacobs, a local author (great book by the way), and we are reading “The Speckled Monster” by Jennifer Lee Carrell for February. We laughingly say we choose books that go well with beer.”

Meanwhile, Cynthia Kaul, who works at the Langley Library, has been part of a book club called Bibliophilia the past 22 years. “It grew out of a mothers’ group,” she recalled. Her group’s format is to host a social half-hour with snacks, then a chosen book club member leads the discussion, giving information about the author. A way to avoid one person’s dominating the discussion is to ask each member their strong impression of the read, asking for a couple of sentences. “We’re reading Ivan Doig’s book, ‘The Last Bus to Wisdom.’ Previous themes included, travel, journeys, what inspires our members and the ‘fun’ in dysfunction.”

Yoga teacher Sarah Birger, who belongs to another island book group she enjoys, said she stretches her awareness by reading books she normally wouldn’t be attracted to like “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. “The pacing is so good,” she said. “The book showed me a side of humanity I didn’t know.”

If you’re looking for a book discussion group hosted at any of the Sno-Isle Libraries, click on this link: http://sno-isle.org/bookgroups/ and then click on the link for the library of your choice. You’ll find the date, time, book group and title they are reading listed on the link.

Food for Thought Book Group at Langley Library (photo by Jamie Whitaker)

Food for Thought Book Group at Langley Library, from right, Tracy Heffelfinger, Bliss Knorpp, Kate Poss (foreground), and Trish Zapinski. (photo by Jamie Whitaker)


Langley Library, for instance, piloted a book club this month—Food for Thoughtbased on the suggestion of a patron who likes to cook. This month’s program featured local author Michaelene McElory’s novel “The Last Supper Catering Company,” combined with a French apple tart made from a recipe in Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.” February celebrates chocolate. Visit here  for more links to food and authors at the Langley Library.

The Clinton Library hosts The Clinton Book Group on the second Wednesday of every month from 10 to 11 a.m. at the library. This year’s “Whidbey Reads” is, coincidentally, the book club’s choice for a February read; it’s “The Wind is Not a River” by Brian Payton. Visit this calendar for more information.

The Freeland Library hosts a book group—Lit for Fun—which meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at 9 a.m. Click on this link for information on scheduled book groups and author talks.

Oak Harbor’s Book Club (photo by Annie Mulligan for Sno-Isle Libraries)

Club members Dolly Lister (blue) and Camille Brighten (orange) discuss the book in the Oak Harbor Book Club (photo by Annie Mulligan for Sno-Isle Libraries)

Traveling up the island, Coupeville Library is home to the fiction book club—Literature and Laughter, which meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. If non-fiction is more to your taste, check out The Second Friday Non-Fiction Book Club, which meets from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Click on this link for more details.

Book Clubs Signs.FEAT-IMAGE

Individual signs await the members of the many clubs that attend the All Island Book Club events. (photo by Donna Hood)

At the Oak Harbor Library, book lovers have three choices: The Oak Harbor Book Group meets the last Friday of the month at 11 a.m., The Mystery Lovers Book Club meets the fourth Thursday at 3 p.m. and The Classics Book Group meets weekly on Mondays at 10 a.m. Click here to learn more details.

 Want to Join a Book Club?

Organizer Donna Hood notes: If you don’t belong to a book club but you’re interested in joining one, there is an open table for “Visitors,” who are welcome to attend. (Email Donna Hood at mailto:donnahood@whidbey.com.) At past events, some visitors have gotten together and formed their own new clubs.

Kate Poss works as a library assistant at the Langley Library. She was thrilled to work for three summers as a chef aboard a small Alaskan tour boat from 2008 to 2010. She was a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles for many years before moving to Whidbey Island where she likes ‘talking story,’ hiking, hosting salons and writing her novel.


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  1. Kate – great job – And great resource for Island book lovers to find a group to join – be sure to update my list. I think there may be 50 book clubs on the Island.

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