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These books are definitely made for talking

by Michael Ceraso | www.claremont-courier.com

Claremont is known for PhDs and trees. And, apparently, for its active book clubs.

There are 45 book clubs that meet in Claremont. The groups range from eight to 12 book lovers, convening monthly to share their thoughts and reflections on whichever book their group has collectively agreed to read. 

A list of the various club’s favorite titles are compiled from these gatherings, which is revealed annually at For the Love of Books, an event hosted by the Friends of the Claremont Library (FOCL). This yearly list represents hours of thoughtful evaluation and spirited discussions that comes from a pure joy for literature. 

“We have all of these book groups who are taking their time to share not only what each group reads, but a list of books by category for everyone else to enjoy,” said Diane Schuster, a former career counselor, who volunteers her time to track down, collect and arrange book club favorites into a comprehensive list. 

The book list represents genres reflecting the diversity of interest and focus among the 45 book clubs. There are seven categories: fiction, nonfiction, short story, memoir biography, mystery, drama and poetry. 

“I feel compiling the list is a community service. It’s important to me for everyone to be seen, because when we are, we become closer to one another and to the community we live in,” said Ms. Schuster.  

Each year there are hundreds of thousands of books published worldwide. It’s hard for anyone to keep track, let alone narrow the field of books to read. Claremont book clubs serve as a distillery to make it easier for people to expand their reading choices. 

On the Same Page member Margeret Russell believes a “list itself can calm the chaos. It makes it easier to manage everything that is thrown at you.” A retired school teacher of 42 years, Ms. Russell appreciates the practical function a list like Ms. Schuster’s performs. “A list helps you remember the things you want to do and the books that your friends and family recommended to you.” 

The meeting locations for clubs vary between groups. Some book clubs meet in the city’s local coffee shops, at the local library, community centers, and parks that were made for outside sitting and engaging conversations. Others meet in the Victorian homes built when citrus ranches were widespread and the buildings from the Claremont Colleges didn’t reach the local skyline. 

Inside these homes you may find hors d’oeuvres placed on a table with plastic cups and wine for guests. Vivacious music can be heard in the background while everyone settles in for the night’s discussion. 

While hosting the book club can be challenging, picking the right book for members can be exhausting. The list is a powerful tool for club moderators to find compelling and engaging material for their members.  

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