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Athenaeum launches club that looks at ‘great’ books

 WESTFIELD-When was the last time you read a “great” book?

“My overall goal is to have fun, reading books while making friends and learning,” said Kate Deviny, director, Westfield Athenaeum, of the new Great Books Bookclub that starts meeting March 31.

“Many of the books chosen are ones we were taught were important,” said Deviny, who has a Master’s degree in English Literature. “Other books we always meant to read, while others are old favorites.”

The evening book club will take place in the Whitney Study from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month.

Deviny said she will start the club with George Orwell’s “1984” which was published in 1949. Material on the book’s original reception and the book will be available at the Adult Circulation Desk.

“The idea is to discuss, to dig deep into the writer’s words and world, and come to a better understanding,” said Deviny.

Deviny said she decided on “1984” to launch the club because she hasn’t read it for a while and Orwell’s “thought police and doublespeak” are “echoing today.”

As the months progress,  Deviny will also invite area residents to read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust,” Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Frankenstein,” Plato’s “The Republic,” Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species,” Toni Morrison’s “the Bluest Eye,” Euclid’s “Elements,” Sigmund Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex,” Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There,” Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” and many more.

“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson will be among the first books to be discussed at the Westfield Athenaeum’s new Great Books Bookclub.

“Some of the books we have always meant to read, some we read years ago and others we dread reading, but know we should,” said Deviny. “Together we will look at the artistry of the writer, the historical period, and the books’ rippling effects on our lives and culture.”

Deviny noted that some books may require more time to discuss its implications.

“Some of these books are dry and we might need to help each other out, we might need to spend more time on a book, do the book in chunks or drop it if we all fall asleep reading it,” she said.

Deviny added she is hopeful the new club will educate and inspire those attending the gatherings.

“These books changed how people thought and acted,” she said. “So, I am creating a book club for people of any age to read thought-provoking books. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening hour.”

For persons interested in joining the club, sign up at the Circulation Desk or call the Circulation Department at (413) 568-7833.

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