Hungry minds |
Joshua Roberts

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Hungry minds

In an age of snappy mediums, Craig Book Club remains the area's 'literary royalty'

In an interview about his debut novel, “The Sixth Lamentation,” author William Brodrick said “two streams of interest” converged and provided the inspiration he needed to write the classic.

Much the same can be said about the Craig Book Club, a 26-year-old organization with members who participate out of equal parts friendship and zest for the written word. Group members met Thursday morning at Serendipity Coffee Shop and Book Store to discuss Brodrick’s novel, which many opined as a multi-faceted masterpiece.

In this technological age, books — once a primary source of entertainment and learning — sometimes seem like a dusty relic lost in a digital sea of snappier and less time-consuming mediums.

But the Book Club is a reminder that the printed word will always be a main course for those feeding a “hungry mind.”

Those words, a fitting description of club members, are emblazoned on a picture that was propped at the group’s meeting Thursday.

“We’re the literary royalty of Craig,” said Susie Begam-Violette, a member of the club.

“We’re like an English class,” said her friend and longtime book club member Bonnie Thompson.

Thompson added that mem-bers always carve out time from their meetings for talking about kids and grandkids, but in the end, their true bond lies with a shared passion for reading.

“It’s no fun to read a book, and have no one to discuss it with,” Thompson said.

“It takes a whole group of people to see the whole picture,” Begam-Violette said.

A first impression of the Book Club is misleading. The collective chatted casually between bites of scones and sips of tea and coffee Thursday. They met in a quiet, cozy space and wore sweaters just as warm as the quick, easy smiles on their faces.

Soon, however, one learns that this unassuming group, which first resembles a Sunday sewing circle, is armed with members possessed by a crisp wit, razor-sharp intellect and a comprehensive understanding of modern and classical literature. Their analysis could have easily been plugged into the book review pages of the New York Times and would have made forward-thinking professors envious.

Their discussion, opening with a dissection of the book, took off into a philosophical realm of faith, virtue and morality. One group member compared Brodrick’s work to “Sophie’s Choice” and “Man’s Search for Meaning,” two pieces that essentially ask, “How do you move forward and get out of the past?”

“This whole story is based on nothing is black and white,” Thompson said.

Brodrick’s book — a suspense novel focusing on a monk’s investigation of a French church harboring an alleged Nazi war criminal — also served as a catalyst for group members to share life experiences.

Emilyn Young said it returned her to days spent abroad.

“It brought back a lot of memories because I have been to Paris and London,” she said. “It gave me a lot of food for thought.”

Begam-Violette, who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, said the book reminded her of the stomach-turning tales of atrocities inflicted on Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

“As heart-wrenching as “Schindler’s List” was, you cannot imagine the horrors,” she said.

At one point Thursday, a group member, who was critical of the laziness of modern thinking, asked “Where are all the smart people?”

For those interested in joining those ranks, the Craig Book Club meets on the second Thursday of each month. On average, the group reads and reviews nine books a year.

For more information about the club, call Begam-Violette at 824-1956.

Josh Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or