Adventures in Reading

A local book club celebrates thirty years of page-turning

Some book clubs celebrate five- or ten-year anniversaries, and justifiably so—ten years of regular, voluntary meetings is a show of dedication. The Reading Books by Women group, however, has persevered beyond three ten-year anniversaries, with no indication of slowing down.

“We are pretty serious readers,” says club co-founder Barbara Vater of the club’s nine members, four of whom have participated since its inception in 1981. At that time, reading books penned by women was “pretty radical,” Vater says. “It was like, ‘Wow! Women authors!’”

With an ever-growing catalogue of female authors, the group has found no shortage of material to discuss. In addition to favorite local writers like Jane Hamilton and Lorrie Moore, the group also welcomes works in international settings as a way to explore the world from home. “We’re going to Nigeria next,” Vater says. “We’re reading Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who details the Nigerian civil war.”

As the book group continues its monthly gatherings, Vater’s enthusiasm remains strong. “Even after all these years, when I get home from book club I’m wound up,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep! I have a lot of new things in mind to think about, and it’s pretty great when others can impact that.”

PHOTO: From left, back row: Jean DeVore, Julie Chase, Jane Sandusky; middle: Kathryn Leide, Crystel Anders, Barbara Burnett Vater, Nadine Gratz; front: Grace White, Ginny Moore Kruse.

Joe Nistler is a former editorial intern for Madison Magazine. 

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