“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 — At the Grandview Book Group's first meeting, only a couple of women attended and one of them, Loye Bertelson, didn’t consider herself as much of a reader. But after 17 years, the Provo-based group is going strong, and Bertelson has gained a love for reading and found many treasured friends within the group.
“Every book has its good points,” Bertelson said. “I have a hard time writing (even) a thank you note, so to see someone be able to write with such beautiful prose in such a way that they can combine the whole story and everything. Every book is kind of a joy for me to read and learn from.”
Deseret News: How did your book group start?
Loye Bertelson: We started as a ward Relief Society (in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and then the ward was divided twice. We're on Grandview Hill in Provo so it's the Grandview Book Group. … As far as we can we can figure out it, was in 2002 that I was put on the Relief Society committee and we had passed sheets around asking sisters for different ideas of what they would like to do during the year. The book group was on there as one of the choices. … So we were at a meeting just deciding who would do what and the leader just looked at me and she said, "Loye, will you be in charge of book club?" And I said, “I've never been to one before. I'm not that much of a reader, but I'll do my best.”
DN: What are the members of your group like?
LB: Pretty much we have 12 to 14 people that come (regularly). Sometimes people move in and out of the ward, new ones come and there are some mothers who actually have their daughters come now too, their married daughters. I think the oldest one of us is 80. She's very hard of hearing and has worked very hard her whole life on a farm, (but) she loves to come. She says it's just so fun to be with ladies.
DN: What does a typical book group meeting look like?
LB: We have it at 10 o'clock in the morning and we have lunch so whoever hosts it has some kind of lunch that has become part of our tradition.
It's left up to the person who's going to be doing the presenting as to what books she will do — it's not something that she's assigned. … We look up the author and try to find out what we can about them and any reasons why they wrote the book, or kinds of things behind the scenes. … We've learned over the years it's not too much about reviewing the whole book. It's more about asking questions about it (like), "What would you have done in that situation?" or "What did you think of this character?"
DN: Do you have any traditions as a group?
LB: In December we have a book exchange. We don't do a report and we don't read a book in December, but we bring one and just do that game where you pick one up and somebody gets numbers, that kind of thing. And everybody gets to get a book and then somebody can go steal the book from somebody else.
What we have decided to do at that time is any of the books that were exchanged that day, if there’s one that people are interested in, we go ahead and choose that as the book that we would like to read.
DN: What are some of your favorite memories with the book group?
LB: Sometimes books have a lot of emotion and there are people who die and suffer (in them), and people who triumph and win, (so) to be able to sit there and liken that to ourselves, we get … where we're all sitting there crying and becoming quite emotional from what we talked about.
There was one book we read — I'm trying to think of the name of it — it was about a mother and how she was a bit domineering and things had to be done her way. … Afterwards, the leader just went around and asked us to each talk about our own mothers. That was very powerful because we just kind of see a friend as they are now and then when you hear about what they dealt with or had to do to help their parents, (you see) in some ways (they) have (had) a lot of sadness in their life, too. … Because of our ages, we've seen a lot of life and relate on some things. And we laugh. We've become very good friends.
The Grandview Book Group's recommendations:
"Before We Were Yours," by Lisa Wingate, Penguin Random House, 345 pages (f)
"The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, Penguin Random House, 464 pages (f)
"The Elephant Whisperer" by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence, Macmillan Publishers, 381 pages (nf)
"The Queen of Water," by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango, Penguin Random House, 370 pages (f)
"The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd, Penguin Random House, 333 pages (f)