Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No-fear book culling (or not)

I recently faced the distressing possibility that I might not live long enough to read all of my books. I imagine this happens to all book collectors eventually. That quick purchase, and the next, and the one after that, all gather on the shelves until ... another book case is needed. And then, another. And another.
I know I have too many, know it's a compulsion, like hoarding. But it is such a sweet, harmless sin. I'm too lazy to do a count, but I estimate in my rough Irish way that there are a thousand books or so settled on the shelves, waiting for the books I borrow from the library, those I receive for reviews and others purchased for my book club—the aptly named Off-Track Bookies.
That's a lot of reading. My life/death estimate is predicated on the fact that I don't skim books; I read them slowly, deliciously. I study the style and savor the words until I near the end, when it's no-holds-barred race to the finish line (if it's a good book). At my current pace, I will have to live—and be able to read—until something like 100 years old. Given the rate at which my eyes are deteriorating, that's not looking too likely. That, and the fact that I plan to take up risque living at age 90.
I'm not too thrilled; my kids—who will have to dispose of all my books someday—aren't too thrilled either. I will accept that I bear some responsibility for thinning out the shelves before that time (though it's tempting to just let them suffer). But since I love books, I want to see them off to a better place.
Getting rid of your old friends is hard. I tell myself lies: Of course I'll read them all! I'll even reread them. I'll pass them on to dear friends and give some to the library. I'll be buried with them. Imagine: a coffin made of books. I like that.
But back to the living. When you, like me, are ready to accept that some culling of the herd is necessary for your psychological health, other readers have some advice for you, as do I:
1. Keep a "give away" and a "sell" box near the book case. Once a month, remove and dispose of the books that simply occupy space. You won't read them; your kids don't take time to read, and your grandchildren won't use them for reference one day, since they have the internet.
2. Go shelf by shelf. Pick up each book, thumb through it and consider whether you will read it. Be honest. If you've been hoarding it for years, the answer is probably no. If it's from college years; throw it in one of the bags.
3. Offer them to the library, since libraries earn precious operational funds from book sales, and they have a built-in audience.
4. Sell them. Try amazon.com. Shipping is a nuisance, but maybe you won't mind. If you know of a second-hand shop with bookshelves, bring them best-sellers (which you probably don't want to keep anyway) no more than 5-6 years old. You won't make much, but they'll be gone. Quality special topic books also sell well (cookbooks, travel, photography). Some used book stores will buy your books up front and offer you either a pittance or a book credit for them—which won't solve the inventory problem.
5. Bring a few good reads to places where you see friends—book club, coffee shops, places that have exchanges (my hair salon loves them). Senior centers. Waiting rooms. You get the idea. If they seem unwilling, drop the books and run.
6. Don't forget the Prison Book Program out of Quincy, Mass. (www.prisonbookprogram.org) which collects, organizes and ships books to prisoners. This is a good outfit, and your help in any form is appreciated.
7. Keep only what you truly intend to read. You won't miss the others, some say, (though I sincerely doubt it and would never do that myself; sorry, kids).
8. Do nothing. They're not hurting anyone until you go. Then it's not your problem.
Robyn Devine, author of "She Makes Hats", suggests:  "I dedicated a shelf to “need to read” books, and noted the date. Any books that started out on that shelf on that date but were still there six months later I purged – I had discovered I truly had no desire to read them!" (This is not an absolute: I've found wonderful books that I owned for years before reading).
Minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn says: "Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club inspired me to get rid of the vast majority of my books a little over a year ago: 'The things you own end up owning you.' 'It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.' ... I read those quotes several times and within a week sold or donated 98 percent of my books. I purchased a Kindle and kept one shelf of my favorite physical books." (OK, Millburn, you're nuts. Then again, if you like Kindles, go for it. Seems like an expensive way to replace a library.)

Authors visit Worcester:

Two popular writers will appear at a Women's Authors event to benefit the Worcester YWCA's Daybreak program. Hank Phillippi Ryan and Elin Hilderbrand will speak at a 5 to 7 p.m., May 21, gathering in Alden Hall, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road.
Hilderbrand is the author of "The Matchmaker" (2014) (which debuted at no. 5 on the New York Times bestseller list and earned praise from Publishers Weekly), as well as 11 previous novels, including "Beautiful Day." She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has lived on Nantucket for 20 years. Her latest, "The Rumor," will be released this summer.
Journalist and writer Hank Phillippi Ryan has won multiple awards for crime fiction, including the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award for "The Other Woman." National reviews have called her a "master at crafting suspenseful mysteries" and "a superb and gifted storyteller." Her newest book, "Truth Be Told," is a Library Journal Best Book of 2014. Her next novel, "What You See," will debut this fall. 

Amy Belding Brown at Lancaster
Thayer Memorial Library hosts the author of a novel based on the life of noted Lancastrian Mary Rowlandson (1637-1711) , wife of Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, the first minister of Lancaster’s First Church, who was captured by Native Americans during King Phillip's War. Her memoir, “The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” was published in 1682. 
Amy Belding  Brown wrote "Flight of the Sparrow," imagining the time and situation, and did so skillfully. She will be at the library at 1 p.m., May 2, to discuss the writing of that novel.

Book Group meetings:
NOW Book Group meets May 11 at Barnes & Noble, 541 Franklin St., Worcester, to discuss Mark Twain's "Diaries of Adam and Eve," a light take on the war between the sexes.

Thayer Memorial Library in Lancaster hosts these meetings: Tuesday (April 28), Katherine Boo's non-fictional "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," and May 26, Celeste Ng's novel, "Everything I Never Told You." The group meets at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room area. To reserve a copy, contact the library.

Audio Journal’s “Speaking Volumes” call-in book group airs on the first Tuesday of the month at 8 p.m. All are welcome to listen live at www.audiojournal.net.  Next up is Marilynne Robinson's "The Gilead," on May 5. For details see: http://www.audiojournal.net/programming/speaking-volumes.

Members of the Westborough Public Library's 10:30 a.m. Thursday group will meet May 21 to discuss "The Hare With Amber Eyes" by Edmund DeWaal. The Monday evening group meets at 7 p.m. May 4 to discuss Garth Stein's "A Sudden Light."

Northborough readers will discuss Susan Cain's "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" at 10 a.m., May 8 in the library.

Heywood Library's group will review "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done," by Atul Gawande at its 4:30 p.m., May 27 meeting.

In Dudley, Crawford Public Library's book group will meet at 6 p.m., May 7, to discuss Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night."

At Gale Free Library, Holden, Contemporary Book Group will discuss "The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 5. The Classics Book Group meets May 28 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath.

At Haston Free Library in N. Brookfield, members will meet at 7 p.m., May 26, to discuss a work by Charles Dickens. Call for details.

Members of the Douglas Library Book Group will discuss "The Emerald Mile" by Kevin Fedarko, a nonfiction recounting of the fastest boat ride in history, on a hand-built dory, along the Grand Canyon's Colorado River. Meeting is at 6:30 p.m., May 12.

Ann Connery Frantz is a Lancaster writer-editor, co-founder of the Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative. To send questions or ideas write ann.frantz@gmail.com



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April events for readers and poets



There is much going on this month.
Here are some that didn't make the newspaper, thanks to my own error!

Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative invites readers to observe National Poetry Month with several events at Thayer Memorial Library this month. Poets may read from their work at a Poetry Open Mike at 6:30 p.m., April 14, in the library's downstairs Dexter meeting room. There is a five-minute maximum reading period for each participant. 
Also, poet Michael Fisher, author of "The Wolf Spider" and "Libretto for the Exhausted World" will lead a workshop on the Language of Poetry from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 on Saturday, April 18, in the Dexter Room.

Holden Free Library is also welcoming fans of poetry at a poet-led writing workshop, Monday, April 13, 10:30 a.m. to Noon. Jennifer Freed will lead the workshop, one of several poetry and writing sessions offered during April at Gale, (508) 210-5569.

Northboro Public Library's Friday Morning Book Group will discuss Debra Dean's "The Madonnas of Leningrad" at a meeting planned for April 10. The novel is based on the World War II seige of Leningrad. Call the library, (508) 393-6889, for information from Marie Nieber, leader.

Thayer Memorial Library's Adult Book Group will meet at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, to discuss "People of the Book: A Novel" by Geraldine Brooks. This is the fact-inspired story of a rare illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah, through centuries of exile and war. For more information, contact Assistant Director Karen Silverthorn at 978-368-8928 or ksilverthorn@cwmars.org.

Actress-singer Debbie Reynolds' "Unsinkable: A Memoir," is the topic of Heywood Library's book group for April 29.

Gale Free Library's Contemporary Book Group in Holden will meet at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 7 to discuss "The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion" by Fannie Flagg. Its Classics Book Group will meet on Thursday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss "The Custom of the Country" by Edith Wharton.

At Haston Library, North Brookfield, members will discuss "Common Threads Poetry," at 7 p.m., April 28.

Members of Lancaster's "Off-Track Bookies" will meet on April 9 to discuss Ann Leary's "The Good Wife."

On April 13, the NOW Women's Issues Book Group will discuss "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers," by Mary Roach. "Great science writing, and very engaging, says Joan Killough-Miller. "But don't try to read this over lunch!" Meets at 7 p.m. inside Barnes & Noble, 541 Lincoln St., Worcester.




Top of Form

Reading for pleasure, for knowledge, for life



Although lately much occupied with books about how to keep your dog from renting the drapes, chewing the doorways and destroying the doors, I have found time to read books recommended by friends, solicited for reviews or books that are just plain fun.
Louise Erdrich's novels about contemporary Native Americans bring me back to western South Dakota, where I lived during the 1972 flood and the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation—both tense and difficult times for Native Americans. Sherman Alexie does it for me too.
The people of the Midwest and West come alive again, enduringly and soulfully, within the works of Ivan Doig, Annie Proulx, Charles Frazier, Ken Haruf and David Guterson.
T.C. Boyle's short fiction opens my imagination to new ways of expressing ideas, as well as crafting imaginative stories. The same holds for Ray Bradbury, Proulx, John Updike, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Flannery O'Connor and Jhumpa Lahiri. They have written memorable stories.
I'm a fan of books about men, women and families during World War II, so I routinely pick them up both fiction and nonfiction from that era. Among the best: "The Diary of Anne Frank," Kristen Hannah's "Winter Garden" and, more recently, "The Nightengale," Chris Bohjalian's "Skeletons at the Feast," Elie Wiesel's "Night," Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken," Thomas Kennealy's "Schindler's List," William Styron's "Sophie's Choice," Jenna Blum's "Those Who Save Us," Victor Klemperer's "I Will Bear Witness," Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place," Leon Uris' "Mila 18" and "Exodus," and so, so many other books dealing with this era that have enriched my knowledge and thoughts.
This is why we read. We read to expand our lives and hearts, to learn about what we need to understand, to live in ways we cannot live.
I hope that your book club does that for you.
Area book groups:
The next meeting of the Douglas Library Book Group will focus on Garth Stein’s "The Art of Racing in the Rain." Meeting is Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library, (508) 476-2695, for a copy of the book. New members welcome.
The Friday Morning Book Club at Northborough Library will meet at 10 a.m., April 10, to discuss "The Madonnas of Leningrad" by Debra Dean, a novel based on the siege of Leningrad during World War II.
Actress-singer Debbie Reynolds' memoir, "Unsinkable" will be the topic of a 4:30 p.m., April 29 meeting at Heywood Library in Gardner.
Gale Free Library in Holden has slated two meetings. The Contemporary Book Group will meet at 10:30 a.m., April 7, to discuss Fannie Flagg's "The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion." Its Classics Book Group will meet at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30, to discuss "The Custom of the Country" by Edith Wharton.
Off Track Bookies in Lancaster will meet at 7 p.m., April 9, to discuss Ann Leary's "The Good House."
North Brookfield Book Group, observing National Poetry Month, has slated "Common Threads Poetry" for its 7 p.m., April 28 meeting at Haston Library.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book clubs try short stories on for size

We're all rushed these days, but reading remains important to many. There are solutions for the too-busy-to-read dilemma, and many groups are finding them.
Several area book groups have spoken about dividing a book up into multiple sessions (some even go a full season on one author). This allows members to savor a book, without hurrying to the end before a meeting.
Another solution is to read short stories; groups sometimes select one author and explore his or her work that way. Heywood Library Group recently did short stories by TC Boyle, an unconventional but wildly creative fiction writer.
In Clinton, a short story book club formed in the wake of a 600-page Dostoyevsky work that convinced them to do other things. Members meet in Bigelow Free Library every other week to discuss stories by an author whom they've chosen to explore at length.
"If they miss one session, there's always a different story they can read for the next meeting. Our meetings are on Saturdays from 10 to 12 or so, usually in the basement because we're speaking out loud," said Joan Higbee-Glace, one of the organizers, along with Gordon Graham. They publish notices in the main library area and the Item to let prospective members know what the group is reading.
"We usually read about 20 pages aloud while we're there, so if people don't have time to read the story they can just listen to it being read. Members can interrupt at any point with a question or a comment about the reading," she said.
Right now, members are exploring Bernard Malamud. "Malamud was a New York-based writer, a Jewish man who wrote a lot about poorer people," Glace said. "His family were storeowners, so he writes about people who have fallen on tougher times, lost money. He also writes about some Italian life, Catholics. What an interesting perspective these people have; sometimes the phrases are just beautiful, or sometimes just funny; they catch your eye, and you think, I've got to remember that, 'cause I want to use it someday!"
The group is small, and older, she says—with a core of six, joined by others depending on which author they're exploring. Flannery O'Connor attracted her own fans in addition to the regulars. Come spring, snowbirds return to expand the group.
By taking their time with one author, Glace said, "we see how an author progresses; sometimes the stories are redone, or carried on with same characters. O'Connor sometimes took a theme and changed it. She was from the South, a Roman Catholic when the South was generally protestant; she wrote a lot about the grace of God, but not so much that you would notice it. ... You could see how God worked in someone's life, without actually mentioning it."
They discuss authors before selecting one. "Sometimes, people who don't want to read an author learn that they really enjoy the writer. You really get a feeling for the guy. In a short story, the descriptions of the characters are so wonderful, and you notice that in some stories, certain things are emphasized. O'Connor often talked about the sky and the trees, and she often had a surprise ending. We read 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' and loved it."

The group enjoys ethnic writers. "You get to know how someone else thinks, someone not of your faith or color. That's really wonderful. It leads to stories from members in the group, who remember when some of the older ways were prevalent in their community. For instance, the little grocery stores in Clinton come to mind when we read Malamud. There were ethnic groceries in each neighborhood. Members have stories about what happened in their neighborhood. We relate to the stories deeply."
Anyone is welcome to join. For more info, call Glace at (978) 870-0352 or Gordon Graham at (978) 733-4367. People are welcome to just drop in. "If they call, I'll make a copy of the story and send it to them until they get a book," she said. Next Malamud sessions are: March 7: "The German Refugee," and March 21, "A Choice of Profession."
"We only take off if the library is closed, or there's a storm."

Twenty years of booking it:
The Booklovers' Gourmet in Webster is celebrating 20 years in business this year. Owner Debra Horan says the store will continue to invite regional and nationally known writers in a setting geared toward community gatherings—with food, of course. On Saturday, March 7, The Grey Whisker Pickers will perform from Noon to 2 p.m. at the store, 55 E. Main St., and a memory wall will invite longtime and new customers' comments.

Book groups meet:
Douglas Library book group meets Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss Laurel Corona's "The Mapmaker's Daughter." New members are welcome; for a copy of the book, call (508) 276-2695.
The NOW Book Group will discuss "We are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler at its March 9 meeting. The group meets at Barnes & Noble, 541 Lincoln St. (Lincoln Plaza), Worcester.
At Heywood Library, book group members will discuss "Riding the Bus With My Sister" by Rachel Simon. Meeting is at 4:30 p.m., March 25.
The newly formed North Central Mass Millennial Book Group will discuss Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist" at a meeting to be held Feb. 25, 6 p.m., in Ashburnham.  To join and for location, check www.meetup.com.
Off-Track Bookies of Lancaster has slated Christine Baker Klein's "Orphan Train" for its March 12 meeting.
O'Connor's Books, Brew & Banter will discuss Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" at 6:30 p.m., March 25 in O'Connor's Restaurant, 1160 W. Boylston St., Worcester.
Gardner's Heywood Library group will discuss Rachel Simon's "Riding the Bus with My Sister" on March 25.
At Gale Free Library in Holden, contemporary book club members will meet to discuss "A Man Called Ove," by Fredrik Backman. Classic Book Group members will discuss Bernard Malamud's "The Fixer."
At Haston Library in North Brookfield, book group members will discuss "The Boys in the Boat," by Daniel James Brown, at 7 p.m., March 24.
The C.S. Lewis Society of Central Massachusetts will meet several times during March at Auburn Public Library. At 9 a.m., March 14 and 21, discussion centers on Peter Kreeft's "Between Heaven & Hell." A poetry reading, featuring Irma Stevens, Monica Nelson and Stephen Boys, is slated for 9 a.m., March 28.

Ann Connery Frantz writes Read It and Reap for book groups and those who love to read. Send suggestions or questions to ann.frantz@gmail.com.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Kristin Hannah, "The Nightingale"

I've been reading fiction and nonfiction about the decimation of the Jewish people under the Nazis for some years now, and only recently read "Willy Peter Reese's journal, "A Stranger to Myself," about the siege of Leningrad as Allied Forces overtook the Germans during that war.
What crosses the line into Hannah's novel is the portrayal of what happens to common people in war time. The personal losses, hunger, betrayals and failures of humanity when terror and deprivation tear at the fabric of a society are the same, regardless of which nation is touched by war.
I remember being touched similarly by Jenna Blum's absorbing novel, "Those Who Save Us," about a woman forced to collaborate with the Nazis, but living a double life to help stave off the hunger their prisoners must endure.
Equally affecting is Hannah's story, about a young woman, Isabelle, who becomes the "Nightingale" an almost mythic figure the Germans are obsessed with capturing. She leads downed Allied pilots over the mountains to escape France. Her sister, who considers herself far less brave, also rises to the challenge, saving Jewish children from certain death by hiding them within a convent and in her home, under the nose of an abusive Nazi billeted in the house.
Their suffering--no doubt typical of the painful reality endured during the war--is as memorable as their courage. One realizes something about courage in reading this story--that it is not an easy road to take, and it is a way that does not always reward those who take it.
This is a riveting book, and I consider it Hannah's best to date. She has written it nearly flawlessly, and with clear dedication to the people who fought vile German practices in any way they could.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The World of the Small Book Publisher

February 21, 2015

A Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative
Living The Writer’s Life


       Do you understand the different working relationships between publishers and authors (acquisition, subvention, fee-for-service, subscription)? Do you know what really makes traditional publishing different from self-publishing? Do you know how to determine the quality of a publisher’s services? Or how a publisher can help promote your book? Join Sarah Bauhan, head of Bauhan Publishing of Peterborough, New Hampshire, for a discussion of these topics and a look at the changing world of small book publishers.

       Bauhan Publishing is an independent publisher in Peterborough, New Hampshire. They focus on New England regional books in the areas of history, art, nature studies, and poetry, as well as venturing into thoughtful books that explore sustainability of both the earth and the spirit. 



For more information, contact Karen Silverthorn at 978-368-8928 ext. 4.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Which book has the dodo? We don't all agree.



"The new creature names everything that comes along, before I can get in a protest. And always that same pretext is offered--it looks like the thing. There is the dodo, for instance. Says the moment one looks at it one sees at a glance that it 'looks like a dodo.' It will have to keep that name, no doubt. It wearies me to fret about it, and it does no good, anyway. Dodo! It looks no more like a dodo than I do."
Mark Twain thus described about Adam's reaction to a new creature in the Garden of Eden, namely Eve, in "The Diaries of Adam and Eve," a tongue-in-cheek take on the first couple's discovery of the world around them. Also, perhaps, an indicator of the future.
One would do well to remember Adam's dismay at Eve's insistence on naming (or renaming) each and every plant, animal or aspect of life she encounters to her own liking. She's certain about her choices; he's bewildered. Sounds familiar.
In book clubs, we're all Adams and Eves, regardless of gender. So when members believe their opinion of motivation, theme or denouement is absolutely correct (just because it "looks like a dodo") others may take offense. Strident arguments ensue, while other members, like Adam, acquiesce; they're the ones taking it all in and thinking about another aspect of the book—or what they'll eat when they go home.
If  your group has mostly Eves, you may be doomed to months of dispute, in which no one's opinion is altered. But in fairness, opinion is up for grabs. Only the author knows what he or she intended (maybe). While taking the discussion far afield of the author's intentions may be amusing, or even instructive, it is also likely to discourage conversation among those who think otherwise. Done with a sense of fairness and humor, disagreement is pleasant. But I think out-of-control disputes affect membership—negatively.
So how do you decide whether Adam or Eve's take is correct?
Sometimes, you don't. One person's guess is as good as the next, so respect them all, basically, as legitimately formed and offered. Still, a riot may ensue.
The Opinionated Ladies Book Club, a group of proudly outspoken women in Gainesville, Fla., has been profiled in the Gainesville Sun. Early on, the group initiated some loose rules to keep order. Members usually pick a printed question about the book from a container passed around the room; that generally guides the conversation around the book, rather than 500 other topics of interest to members that day. The group also has a handy bell nearby, and when the conversation gets out of control, and a self-selected Eve is holding forth in a loud voice, that little bell rings—a signal to restore order.
I remember reading an essay by someone who quit her book group after other members universally pronounced the selection despicable, complaining loudly that Oprah could pick such a bad book! (Considering that the book was "One Hundred Years of Solitude," she may have been in the wrong group for her taste.)  
You may have to search for the right group. If you utterly hate chick lit, for instance, joining a group that's going to select one half the time is a mistake. Keep looking. In the main, most clubs have a loyal base of people who tend to like each other well enough to keep meeting. The reading list may turn off some members, but there's always room to grow. I've generally found that others' selections have brought me to titles I would not otherwise have picked up, so I'm grateful for being introduced to them. When my own group, the Off-Track Bookies, picks a book I don't have time to read, I'll sometimes skip the meeting, or go there to see if the discussion interests me sufficiently to check it out later. I've seen members ask others to warn them when a plot spoiler is just ahead, so they can leave the room.
Adam and Eve never had a book club, or they might have killed each other. But at least we can read Twain and find out how they learned to get along, in his wry view.
B.J. Novak in Hartford
Field trip time: Actor B.J. Novak, screenwriter, author, co-producer and a regular cast member of "The Office" will appear at a benefit for The Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, Conn., at 7 p.m., Feb. 20, in the Aetna auditorium in Hartford. He'll talk about his life and career, and his recently published book, "One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories." There are different charges, so see the Mark Twain Museum website for details.
 Area book group meetings
The book group at Worcester Public Library meets the second Wednesday, 3-4 p.m. and the second Saturday of the month, 11:30-12:30 p.m. in the third floor elipse. This month's selection is Anne Stuart's "Black Ice." Interested members are invited to meet Stuart at the book club's kickoff event, Feb. 14.
The next meeting of the Douglas Library Book Group will focus on Kate Horsley’s "Confessions of a Pagan Nun" at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10. A sixth-century cloistered Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, rather than transcribing Augustine. Gwynneve writes of her village's pigkeepers and fishermen, of her fiercely independent mother, whose skill with healing plants and inner strength she inherited. She writes of her druid teacher, who introduced her to the mysteries of written language. But disturbing events at the cloister intervene and as the monastery is rent by vague and fantastic accusations, Gwynneve's words become the one force that can save her from annihilation. Call the library, 508-476-2695, for a copy of the book. New members welcome. Homemade refreshments, inspired by the title being discussed, will be served.
The NOW Women's Issues Book Group will meet at 7 p.m., Feb. 9 to discuss Karen Joy Fowler's "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves." The group meets at the Barnes & Noble bookstore, 541 Lincoln St., Worcester. Members will also recap "From A to X" by John Berger, as last month's meeting was cancelled due to weather. Meetings are free and open to the public.