Now in its 20th year, the East Lincoln Book Club continues to offer opportunities for members to engage in lively discussions of books chosen from a variety of genres.
At the club's May meeting, at the Shanklin Library in Denver, the book under consideration was "Pops: The Life of Louis Armstrong," by Terry Teachout. Discussion leader Erica Batten of Sherrills Ford began the meeting by playing a 1928 recording of "West End Blues" by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five.
The music provided the springboard for a lively exchange of ideas about the way Armstrong's life and music profoundly affected the evolution of jazz in America in the 20th century. The group members, all women, displayed an enviable open-mindedness as they considered the excesses and eccentricities of Armstrong's personal life.
Such discussions are fairly commonplace, according to member Peggy Wesp.
"This is an exceptional group of ladies. We are quite diverse, in terms of religion, educational background and geography, and most of our members really take time to understand the book in depth," said Wesp. "I don't think anybody has ever left the meeting not feeling good about the discussion."
Reading selections for the year are decided upon in the spring, when a committee of three members choose two potential titles for each month. Choices are made from various categories, including nonfiction (history, biography, philosophy) and fiction (mystery, historical, women).
"We prefer books with good character development, a well-thought-out plot and the potential for lively discussion," said club member Julia Williams.
Other considerations include the level of difficulty in the book. "We try to choose a more challenging book for September. For November, we choose a book for which there is a movie version, and then we watch the movie in December instead of reading another book," said Wesp.