“On the same page” is a regular series that features Utah book clubs.
Editor’s note: If you have a book club and you are interested in being featured, please contact us at [email protected] Please include your name, your contact information and one or two sentences describing your book club.
SALT LAKE CITY — Secluded in the house, Melanie Roundy sat quietly on the small, uncomfortable wooden stool. In her hands was the haunted love story “Rebecca,” the Gothic masterpiece written by Daphne du Maurier 80 years ago, that was later adapted for film and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Although Roundy had read it several times before, she was engrossed. All of the sudden the door to the closet opened and she jumped. It was her husband — it was 4 in the morning and she was caught.
That was the not the first time a book had kept Roundy up all night. And it probably won’t be the last for this Book Group member.
The Cottonwood Heights-based Book Group began 30 years ago in September of 1988 when a local church leader asked RoeAnn Jeppson to organize a neighborhood book group. Roundy moved into Jeppson's neighborhood the following year, and with six young children, meeting monthly with other members of Book Group was something she looked forward to.
“I was so excited to hear about (Book Group,)” Roundy said. “It really met the needs of so many people and has been such a treasured part of our lives. You don’t mess with Book Group night. There is a real strong bond of friendship and respect that we have created over this many years.”
That bond has increased and spread out over the years. Some members who have moved away still participate through e-books and FaceTime. The monthly meeting of a dozen or so women with different interests is reflected in their book choices, as now even mothers and their daughter participate.
With the variety of ages and interests, Book Group has had some “spirited discussions,” but Roundy said they are all good friends who have gained new perspectives with the broad range of books selected over the past 30 years.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: What is the name of your book club?
Melanie Roundy: We did not ever name our book group. We just used to call it Book Club for years, but ended up deciding that sounded exclusive. We are open and welcome anyone (so) we started calling it Book Group. I think at one point it was called the Neighborhood Book Group, but officially in our emails we just call it Book Group.
DN: How did Book Group start?
MR: In 1988 our group was invited, as many Relief Societies (in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), to organize interest groups. There were bowling groups and quilting groups, golfing groups and hiking groups. They said reach out and meet the needs of all the women in your neighborhood, not just the church, and our group certainly reflects that. I guess it was one that really reached and fulfilled a need that there are so many still functioning.
DN: What is Book Group reading right now?
MR: “The Thief,” by Megan Whalen Turner.
DN: Is there anything special going on with your book club coming up in the future?
MR: That is the book we will be discussing on our 30th anniversary. We have compiled the book list and have also asked everyone to send in a favorite memory or something about Book Group that is meaningful to them.
DN: What is one of your favorite memories of Book Group?
MR: We begin at 7:15 p.m. and serve refreshments at 8:30-ish so that we can leave by 9 p.m. The night we discussed “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern we were so engrossed in our discussion that we didn’t even serve refreshments until about 9:15 p.m. and then we just kept talking and finally around 10 p.m. the last few left because family were calling to see if people were OK! It was a fun night and spirited discussion about a fascinating book (and one of my favorites).
DN: What is your favorite screen adaptation?
MR: After reading and discussing “To Kill A Mockingbird” we decided to have a movie night at one of our homes. We rented the DVD and everyone brought snacks to share and we had a lot of fun. Each are classics and we thoroughly enjoyed them both.
DN: What book do you think deserves a sequel?
MR: “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles. I’d love to know what happens to Johanna and John, and events during their lifetimes. Well written, wonderful characters, — Captain Kidd is one of those characters I’d love to meet in real life — great story and fascinating glimpse into American history!
The Book Group recommends:
"Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen, Penguin Random House, 384 pages (f)
"A Man Called Ove," by Fredrik Backman, Washington Square Press, 337 pages (f)
“Eve and the Choice Made in Eden,” by Beverly Campbell, Deseret Book, 199 pages (f)
"All the Light We Cannot See," by Anthony Doerr, Simon and Schuster, 544 pages (f)1 comment on this story
“Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo, Simon and Schuster, 656 pages (f)
"To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee, Harper Collins, 336 pages (f)
“The Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel, Penguin Random House Canada, 480 pages (f)
“Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President," by Candice Millard, Penguin Random House, 432 pages (nf)
"The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, Penguin Random House, 544 pages (f)
"The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom, Penguin Random House, 256 pages (nf)