Book club craze hits Spencer parish
By Kenny Keane, Globe staff writer
Posted Oct.10, 2002
SPENCER - Sort of like break dancing in the '80s, a recent fad, if you will,
started somewhere in the '90s, many would say by Oprah Winfrey. That fad or
trend is something called a book club, and according to Father Roger Linnan,
pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Spencer, it is no stranger to many of those in
"There are book clubs here in town, and we have parishioners who belong
to book clubs," he said. "Some of them thought we should start reading
spiritual books with the thought that good spiritual or theological material
would work, too. We got a pretty good response."
The response prompted the starting of a book club at Sacred Heart. Father
Linnan said they just ordered several copies of a book called Against an
Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives, by Father Ronald
Rolheiser, a Catholic priest.
Father Linnan said anyone interested in this club can purchase the book,
which is currently available at the parish office. All those who participate
will read the book during the month of October, and then they will join him for
dinner and discussion at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the rectory.
Robin Barber, pastoral minister/development director at Sacred Heart, was the
one who presented the idea to Father Linnan. She said the idea came from the
popularity of these book clubs seen on a lot of television shows, such as Oprah.
"It seems to be something that people are responding to," Barber
said. "I thought it was a neat way to do some adult education without
asking people for a lot of their time for meetings. They read the book and then
come for a dinner to talk about the book, but we're not meeting in between
This is the first month for the book club, but Barber said they've already
sold so many books that she believes it will be successful.
"We don't worry that much about how many people are coming," she
said. "If it's 12, we'll still continue to do it. If it's more than that,
then we'll have more than one discussion group at the end.
"We have some elderly people, who have picked up books, so we might meet
in the daytime for a luncheon rather than for dinner. We do plan on making the
books spiritually enriching."
This first book should be right along those lines according to Father Linnan,
who said that Father Rolheiser is a wonderful, spiritual writer.
"I think when you read him, he gives you things that become pointers
that remind you of the presence and the love of God during the day," Father
Linnan said. "That's the effect his books have had on me, and I'm hoping
it'll have the same effects. I think he helps us interpret our day-to-day lives
from the perspective of the Gospel."
Overall, Father Linnan said he thinks the book club would provide
"encouragement to read a good book, and then you find out what wonderful
ideas were inspired in the minds of lots of other people."
Barber said the evening of dinner and discussion should end around 9,
depending on the length of discussion. Regardless of how the discussion goes,
she said the dinner, which she is cooking, will be worth it.
"We're having a gourmet dinner. It'll be at least a five-course
dinner," she said. "We'll have a cocktail hour, and then we'll have
dinner and discussion. My first hobby is cooking, so the dinner's going to be as
good as the book."
If you have any question about the book club or would like to join, you can
contact Barber at (712) 262-3047.
"The dinner at the end and the conversation is an incentive to sort of
push people to buy the book and read it," she said. "Nobody will be
sorry they did it. It's an enriching book that would add some meaning to