Danville Express

Column - April 6, 2007

Diablo Views: So many books, so little time

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Books, books, books were in the air last Thursday night at the Lafayette Park Hotel.

"I loved that book!"

"She uses language so well."

Such snippets of conversation were overheard as hundreds of women, and a few men, converged for the seventh annual Bookies, a Celebration of Books and the People Who Love Them. It was a fundraiser for Project Second Chance, the Adult Literacy Program of the Contra Costa County Library, run by dynamic program director Susan Lynn and her board, which includes Danville residents Nora La Pointe and Gray Wiley. The board president Terry Stinnett lives in Alamo.

Nora was responsible for the colorful book group reading lists hanging throughout the courtyard during the no-host cocktail session, when we also had a chance to bid on silent auction items, such as a round of golf for four at Blackhawk Country Club, bags of books, sailing lessons and a case of wine. The book lists are a big draw to see what other clubs are reading to get new ideas for books or just for the feeling of camaraderie that comes from having read the same good book. The lists are posted at ccclib.org

The names of the book clubs are also fun, and Dave Simpson of the Lafayette Book Store read them off at the dinner. Some were PTL (Praise the Literature); Queens and Pages; Read and Feed; The Bibliotantes; Desperate Book Wives; Women of Words (WOW); and The Hot Mamas. A Breakfast Book Club meets at 7:30 in the morning, Simpson told us, and a club called the Crickets is 130 years old!

I am proud that my Livorna Book Group has been meeting since 1994. Many of us met when we were in the Livorna Babysitting Co-op 25 years ago. After that we were together with the Livorna Swim Team, Alamo School PTA, etc., etc., etc. By the early '90s we found that when we saw each other at gatherings, the conversation often turned to books. Finally Maria Carter, who has a lot of energy and a good knack for organization, hosted us at her home one evening to discuss starting a book club. And here we are, 143 books later.

Lolly Winston, author of "Good Grief" and "Happiness Sold Separately," was the guest speaker at the Bookies dinner, which was sold out, and related the story of her success with a dry wit. How was she to know when her publisher booked a 26-city book tour that flying every day wasn't all that much fun? And that Wednesday night meant Bible study in the little Alabama town so no one would dare show up to meet her? And how did she know that her last booking with a "naturist" group meant it was in a nudist colony?

Another reason for the frisson of excitement was the good cause it benefited. Fittingly, the group of readers wholeheartedly supports Project Second Chance. Most of us cannot imagine life without a good book in progress, not to mention the practical aspects. Project Second Chance's latest newsletter tells about one man they helped who was finally able to travel to meet his wife who was overseas on business. A year ago, he wouldn't have considered making such a trip because he couldn't read gate announcements, signs or customs information. Another student finally passed written tests for a driver's license and is training to become a bus driver.

The next tutor training series begins April 11 although e-mail registration ends today, April 6. For more information, visit www.ccclib.org/psc or call the office in Pleasant Hill at 927-3250. The 14-hour training teaches about learning styles, learning disabilities and strategies for instruction. It includes meeting learners and tutors who are currently taking part in the program. Another session begins Sept. 5. Tutors must commit to teaching twice a week for an hour and a half each lesson, held at a public location, plus time for preparation. A commitment of one year is requested. The group has other volunteer opportunities besides tutoring such as helping with the newsletters.

And of course the group can always use monetary donations. The next big fundraiser is its eighth annual Martini Tasting being held in June at the Lafayette Park Hotel; it will probably draw a more equitable representation of the sexes.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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