Book Club Surprises Wilson

Wilson grew up on a farm in rural Maine, went to college planning to be a fourth generation farmer, and ended up as a professor in a Big Ten university.  Midway through his career, Wilson and his wife decided they would move back to Maine when they retired. 

Seventeen years later, Wilson was excited about the move back to Maine.  He and his wife picked Cape Elizabeth for its rural setting, natural beauty, ocean location and closeness to Portland.  

During Wilson’s academic career, he was immersed in academic journals, often coming across  exciting results but never finding page turners. In his retirement, he hoped for the freedom to read a wider variety of mysteries and thrillers.

Not long after settling in, Wilson started attending the Thomas Memorial Library’s evening book club.  Fortunately, Kevin Goody, the Adult Services Librarian who leads the evening book club, suggested a diverse collection of titles to the group.  The group read:  “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese, “The Oregon Trail” by Richer Buck;  “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman; “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, and many others.  Kevin had the group vote on what to read next. Often Wilson didn’t like the first third of the book but then found most of them excellent by the end.  The book club was highly successful in pushing him to read a wider variety of books.  But it also delivered a second unexpected benefit.

Wilson was an extrovert who met and worked with a lot of different types of people both in the classroom and through his outreach education assignment.  But in moving to Cape Elizabeth, a town where neither he nor his wife had family or friends before moving, he wasn’t certain how he’d build a social network and he knew this was an important part of feeling settled in a new location.   

The informal way Kevin ran the book club, and the comfortable physical setting, allowed Wilson to get to know other members and become friends with a number of the regulars.  In fact, Wilson realized that this surprise benefit, getting to know other members and feeling more a part of the community, might have been more important than what he had hoped for in joining the book club.   

Kevin, the book club librarian, and the book club itself is just one example of the ways the librarians and many library programs make a difference to Cape Elizabeth, in this case building a more welcoming community for newcomers and serving as a community hub for people of all backgrounds.

George Morse, a member of the Thomas Memorial Library Foundation story team, authored this true story.  However, “Wilson” requested that we use a pseudonym rather than his real name.  The photo is of Kevin Goody, the Adult Services Librarian at Thomas Memorial Library, who leads the evening book club.