When the Dewey Decimal Dames held their regular monthly meeting this month, a special guest joined the gathering. Elizabeth S. Moore, author of The Man on the Middle Floor, Skyped into the meeting from her location in Spain to discuss her first novel with the group.
Moore, who lives in London, listened to comments from club members and answered their questions. She discussed aspects of the book, telling the group that she will have a second book published at the end of the year.
“Thank you for reading the book and for your support. I’m really, really grateful for your support. Thank you for reaching out to me,” Moore said.
Moore is only one of several authors who have joined the 11-member local book club to discuss literary works of its choosing. Last year, six authors joined the group’s discussion electronically. Last month, the club hosted author James Anderson, who sent 11 personalized copies of his book The Never Open Desert Diner to its members.
Next month, Kyle S. Rhorig will join the club to discuss his book Lost on the Appalachian Trail. He has tentatively scheduled a book signing visit to Chilhowie to meet with the group; however, if he is unable to attend the meeting physically, he will join the group electronically. Updates concerning his visit will be posted to the club’s Facebook page as they become available.
Since Missie Sexton, co-founder of the group with Suzanne Scott, has been reviewing books at online sites for the last seven or eight years, she brought this special element to the club, inviting authors of books the club is reading to participate in the meetings. Members have even received first edition, autographed copies of books from the writers.
When the Dewey Decimal Dames began their book club in November 2016, they wanted to be different from other book clubs. Skyping authors into the meetings is a result of their desire to be more than a group of avid readers who meet monthly to discuss the books.
Sexton and Scott got together and came up with some simple rules and regulations to govern the club and its meetings. All books must be a first read for each member. They don’t read many commercial fiction selections -- books that are on the best-seller list. Books are selected fairly, with each of the 11 members suggesting a book at the monthly meeting and giving a spiel about her pick and why the club should read it. Then, a server at the Riverfront Restaurant, where the club meets, draws a number. The book of whoever’s number is drawn is the one the club reads.
The member whose book is selected will lead the discussion. Meetings generally last about two and a half hours and include a meal, the book discussion and selection of a new book.
Sexton said the group, which is made of up of Sharon Bullins, April Duncan, Tammy Jarvis, Tammy Spencer, Missy Dempsey, Hope Pote, Deanie Demick, Amy Harris and Marty Blevins, plus Sexton and Scott, has been together since the beginning and has really good attendance with perfect attendance for the past seven to eight months.
“We’re all friends and do things together anyway. The diversity of the group’s members brings different things to the table. You learn a lot about people and become lifetime friends. We’ve been meeting now for a year and a half, and we are very close. You learn something new about the people in the club every time you read together,” Sexton said.
All the members are avid readers although they may choose a different format for their favorite hobby. Some prefer eBooks. Others like audiobooks, and others choose hard copies.
“We have 15 on a waiting list to become members, but sometimes with 11, it’s hard for everyone to get what they want to say in. All our members are very different in how we see things. We all bring different thoughts and ideas to the club,” Sexton said.
The club reads all different kinds of books -- fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, biographies, even travel books.
“If you don’t like a book, you don’t have to read it. Just tell us why you didn’t like it,” Sexton said.
All the members read on their own in addition to the club’s pick. Sexton said the most books she has read in a year is 60. So far this year, she has read 29.
The club has a Facebook page, The Dewey Decimal Dames, and holds online discussions. Even though their club is closed to new members, those interested in getting in on the group’s discussion can join the social media group.