June 26, 2022

South Fork book clubs enter the brave new world

“In the gray-haired league, we’re all a bit more challenged by technology,” said a woman who is part of two book groups that have moved online.

The course of true love has never run smoothly: Book lovers with dedicated book clubs are doing everything in their power, even mastering new technology, to keep up with meetings in the age of coronavirus . What Zoom lacks in dimension, Dimensional Conversation makes up for.

“We stay on task. It’s not food and drink and snacks and maybe the book,” said Joanne Canary, who is part of the Amagansett Library book club, as well as a which she has been organizing herself for six years.

“We’ve decided we’ve had enough of World War II stories. More dramatic books don’t usually make people laugh, so we look for well-written books with humour,” Ms Canary said of her aspirations. current reading. . She mentioned the book “Straight Man” by Richard Russo.

“Most of us are of a certain age and have enough income to have free time, but in the gray-haired league we’re all a bit more challenged by technology,” Ms Canary said. Initially, it was his responsibility to do the invitations for Zoom, “but it was a level of complexity that I didn’t like”.

Lauren Nichols, the director of the Amagansett Library, quickly took responsibility and made life easier. “It was a huge relief! It made me really uncomfortable about the book meeting and added to the tension. You get performance anxiety because you want the book to be well presented and received , and that’s good, but Zoom on top of that isn’t good.”

Thanks to Zoom, however, members of the Amagansett Library book club who traveled to Delaware and New York for quarantine were able to continue attending meetings. “An unexpected pro,” Ms. Canary said.

“The Zooming stuff, I love it. I really love it and in many ways I hope a lot of the many things I was doing in person will continue on Zoom because you don’t have to drive, show up or get dressed,” said Noreen Bradley, who is part of the Amagansett and East Hampton Library book clubs. “You just need to put on a nice T-shirt so you don’t look terrible and I find it easy to have conversations via Zoom.”

Ms Bradley has shared a nifty travel tip for the reopening of the world, which she learned from other members of the reading group who live in the East End only in winter and have kept up to date with the club via Zoom this summer . “They told us that when they travel, six weeks before they leave, they find a book club they go to, in Ireland for example. They read the book and show up when they arrive in Ireland and find that it’s a great way to connect with local people, but also interesting to discuss their views on the books, which may be somewhat different from those of the Americans.”

Among the book clubs still operating virtually are Steven Spataro’s Mystery Book Club and the Sci-Fi Book Club at the East Hampton Library. Mr. Spataro said that since listing the meeting on Eventbrite, the club has gone international, with new regulars coming from as far away as Devon, England, and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as all the states. “The person zooming in from England, it’s 11pm there! He can’t wait to be there,” Mr Spataro said.

Internally, the sci-fi group could sometimes number four or five people, “but we had 12 people online,” he said, and the conversation always went smoothly.

“Everyone is very polite.” Mr. Spataro was also able to arrange guest speakers on Zoom.

Her sci-fi picks for this summer include Clifford Simak’s “The Way Station.” “They loved it. The reason I chose this is because it’s going to be a Netflix series. We’ve done David Koepp’s ‘Cold Storage’ for August and we’re doing Robert’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ Heinlein for September.”

Even when things return to “normal,” Mr. Spataro plans to use Zoom in internal meetings for members who can’t make it to the library. He thinks that with a very small group spaced six feet apart, the book club could resume internal meetings in late September or early October; however, he is awaiting more information on the matter.

Jill Sollazzo, who runs the popular Saturday Fiction Book Group, explained in an email that she had mixed attendance when she took things back online in June. “My first group, we had a very lively discussion,” and also with another British resident present, she said. “On my second go-around, we ended up having no one to join us. see a lot of fatigue on Zoom and online programs, which could explain a drop in attendance. »

At BookHampton, Eve Karlin, a bookseller who leads the book group, said no meetings were missed. “I think it’s worth it. I think people need the connection more than ever. We’ve been really lucky to have authors sharing their books.” Among the group’s assortment of recent literature, local lore was featured in Marian Lindberg’s “Scandal on Plum Island”.

Mrs. Karlin notes that in winter the Maidstone Inn hosted the club. “It was lovely,” and one thing easily missed about in-person meetings, she admitted.

A support group for fiction writers that started at the John Jermain Library and is hosted by Bobbie Cohen is also taking place on Zoom, which is good for those who attend after work or live in East Quogue, she said. note. Eric Cohen, her husband and member of the group, admitted that “it has always been very rewarding to meet once a week”.

While an intellectual conversation can take place just about anywhere, Ms. Bradley sheepishly pointed out that the pre-book club cocktail party with other members is absolutely irreplaceable. “That’s what I miss the most in person, I think,” she laughed.