Readers discovering more books through ‘Tale’ talks

By Susan J. Conrad
Daily News Correspondent
Feb. 11, 2006

CORFU , Patricia Coleman made sure she arrived at Corfu Free Library Thursday night with enough time to check out two new books before the book discussion group started its monthly meeting.
Among the books she took home that night was the seventh in a series that she started reading after discovering the author at a previous meeting of the discussion group.
She has attended the group’s meeting since they started four years ago for the ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ community reading project.
During February and March, libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties are hosting book discussions about A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, who will visit each county in March.
Coleman said she used to read, but had gotten out of the habit until the ‘Tale’ project arrived.
“My daughter-in-law was planning to come to the (discussion) and asked if I’d like to come along with her,” Coleman said. “It’s gotten me back on track.”
Coleman says the group has enriched not only her choices in reading material, but also her life with the friendships she has made.
Other group members said they are also reading books in genres they would not have read on their own.
Deb Zauner said she only read mystery novels before joining the group.
“I would come in the library and wouldn’t even look at books in other sections,” Zauner said. “My husband says the group has helped make me less morbid.”
Heather Coleman, Patricia’s daughter-in-law, said she likes setting a good example for her 11-year-old son by broadening her own horizons. By knowing she is going to discuss the book with others, Heather Coleman said she is also motivated to make sure she reads at least one book a month.
“Sometimes I have time to pick up something else,” Coleman said. “But sometimes it’s hard to find the time to get the one book finished.”
Zauner also reads differently when she knows she will be discussing the book with other people. She said she has become more observant and widened her vocabulary.
Rita Schafer comes to group meetings with notes she wrote while reading the month’s selection.
All of the group’s attendants enjoyed A Northern Light, which is set in 1906.
Zauner said she hasn’t always enjoyed the selections for the ‘A Tale for Three Counties,’ but she was drawn into this book by the story and by the author’s writing style.
The book is classified as young adult fiction. Group members said they didn’t feel like they were reading a book written for children. While she think it has good messages for teen girls, Zauner said it would have to be a mature girl who reads the story and can pick up on all the messages the author is sending, such as overcoming odds and making the best of your given situation.
“This book really opened my eyes to what life was like for girls back then,” Zauner said. “They were girls, they weren’t women.”
A Northern Light is inspired by a true story. The fictional story of Mattie Gokey, a 16-year-old who must make an important life decision, is paired with the real-life murder of Grace Brown. The combination gives Grace’s death a purpose.
Donnelly, Zauner reasoned, didn’t want Grace ‘to have died for no reason.’
Zauner read the author’s notes, in which she explains her reasons for writing the story, after reading the novel.
“I’m glad I read them after, because it allowed the book to unfold before me,” Zauner said. “I was even excited when I read the notes. I thought it was a pretty intense thing for her to do.”

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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