Local book club spans an ocean

The Red Deer Readers book club from Sheffield, England is now communicating and ‘meeting’ with the Red Deer Public Library Fireside Readers book club.

The joint of these two book clubs was entirely accidental when Gareth Johnstone, from Sheffield, stumbled across the Red Deer Public Library web site.

“I was interested to see a book club with a name similar to ours, and I thought it would be great to join our clubs together for a few meetings,” said Johnstone.

The twinning of the clubs started in early September and they will discuss two books, one chosen by each club.

The books for the clubs are Black Diamonds’ by Catherine Bailey and The Day the Falls Stood Still by Catherine Marie Buchann.

“I firmly believe that all opinions are valid and our monthly meetings offer us an opportunity for arguments without winners or losers,” said Johnstone, about the benefits of the twinning.

He added there are many unknowns about what will come of the twinning but said it may be the beginning of a longer relationship between the book clubs.

“This may inspire us to make links with readers in other parts of the world or closer to home. Whatever comes of it I’m sure we’ll enjoy it.”

Mary Neely with the Red Deer Public Library Fireside Readers said it is an incredible experience to join with a book club so far away.

“Internet technology allows people from all over the world to meet online and share information without leaving their houses,” said Neely.

Comments and questions about the books will also be discussed on a blog on the Red Deer Public Library web site allowing both clubs to post thoughts and opinions.

“The blog is not a members only site. Anyone can join the club online,” said Neely.

Johnstone said it felt like somewhat of a risk to let another book club choose their reading material.

“Hopefully the benefit of this will be reading a book we wouldn’t have known about and many of the members are a part of the club to read a variety of books, so it fits well,” said Johnstone.

He added they expect to see many different reactions to the books.

“My guess is that there will be both similarities and differences on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Johnstone.

Jan Beesley, a member of the Sheffield Red Deer Readers book club said it will be interesting to hear the reactions to the chosen book Black Diamonds because it is about the social history of an area close to Sheffield.

“I am so grateful for being introduced to such a huge variety of books. I have many friends in the group,” said Beesley.

Neely said there is one pitfall to being so very far apart, but it has otherwise been an enjoyable experience to talk with the group from Sheffield.

“It’s been fun getting to know them. My only regret is that we can’t actually travel to Sheffield to see the club and meet the members in person. Maybe one day.”

It is not decided yet if this will be an ongoing twinning but most members of both clubs hope to see a continuing relationship.