Readers will share reactions, drink switchel at ‘Tale’ talks

By Megan Pierson
Daily News Intern
Jan. 28, 2006

Warsaw Public Library is the latest library getting caught in the fun of the “A Tale For Three Counties.”
The library, for the first time, is hosting a group discussion of the community reading project’s featured book. This year’s title, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, will be talked about at 18 book discussions during February and March at participating libraris.
Angela Gonzalez, the library director in Warsaw, said she had wanted to start a discussion group and last summer there was enough interest to form a group. That group is still going strong, she said.
Other libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties are finding increased interest in book discussion groups. Many new people are joining in advance of this year’s “Tale” discussions, said Leslie DeLooze, reference and community services librarian at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia.
“A Tale for Three Counties,” in its fourth year, encourages people to read and then talk about the choosen book.
Donnelly’s award-winning A Northern Light is the coming-of-age story of Mattie Gokey, who must choose between college and responsibilities at home as she decides what’s next in her life. Set in the Adirondacks, Donnelly melds her fictional story with the real-life tragedy of Grace Brown, who was murdered by Chester Gillette at Big Moose Lake in July 1906.
Discussions will begin Feb. 9 at Corfu Free Library, with 17 more to follow at local libraries and Genesee Community College through March 16. The series of discussions lead up to visits and book signings with Donnelly on March 23, 24 and 25.
“Tale” continues to create excitement among participating libraries and area readers. Sue Rudnicky, director of Swan Library in Albion, says her discussion group members couldn’t wait to pick up this year’s book.
“I have regulars who look forward to a ‘Tale,’ ” she said.
DeLooze recommends that anyone who has not attended a discussion in the past consider attending one this year.
“It is really fun to hear what people think about books, and how they react to characters and situations,” said DeLooze.
Richmond’s discussions on March 2 and 8 will include coffee and food related to the book, likely switchel and sugar cookies.
Switchel is a mixture of water, molasses, sugar, cider vinegar and ground ginger. It was used by farmers to quench their thirst during harvest time.
Mary Zangerle, director of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina said people can expect a friendly group when they come for the March 6 discussion. She is also planning to serve switchel.
Zangerle says the discussion isn’t just a chance to talk about the book, but also an opportunity to learn background about the period and events in the book. A member of the group has made a booklet of photos showing equipment that may have been used in the story’s time period.
Many library directors said the “Tale” project helps readers discover new, or unfamiliar, authors.
Donnelly, who spent part of her childhood near the Adirondack setting of A Northern Light and now lives in Brooklyn, has published three books and has a fourth on the way.
“Sometimes you get caught up in reading the same material over and over,” said Jean Bogue, director of Yates Community Library in Lyndonville.
Rudnicky also agrees that “Tale” gives readers experience with new material. “Something like this shakes you out of a rut and introduces you to a new author,” she said.
At GCC, discussions are being organized by four students. Switchel is expected to be served, said reading instructor Sue Chiddy.
Some GCC instructors are incorporating A Northern Light into classroom lessons. The purpose, said Tracy Paradis, a librarian in the college’s Alfred C. O’Connell Library, is to engage readers that normally read for academic purposes with something to read for pleasure.

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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