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Book Discussion Series

In spring 1997, more than twenty “mad women in the attic” gathered at the Upper Merion Township Library to discuss one book, every other Sunday, built around this theme. “The library’s book discussion, one of the library’s longest running adult programs, began as a cooperative effort with the Maryland Center of the Book,” says Karl Helicher, library director. “The Maryland Center,” Helicher continues, was a pioneer in encouraging reading clubs in libraries. Maryland was very generous and loaned us its books that we, in turn, loaned to our discussion club members.”

The Robert and Shirley Fine Endowment currently funds the programs, which include buying the paperbacks and employing the discussion leaders. For many years, Dr. Carla Verderame and Dr. Anne Herzog, English professors at West Chester University, were the discussion leaders. Recently Dr. Erin Hurt, also from West Chester, replaced Anne Herzog who took an administrative position at Springfield College. 

“Over the years,” Helicher says, the group’s membership has changed, although some members have been here from the beginning, but what remains constant is the bond forged between the discussion leaders and the group and the civil discussions that ensue. Certainly, each reader brings their own insights and all of these are respected by the group.”

The spring 2017 series, “Not the usual: unexpected acts of exploration and resistance” begins on Sunday, March 26 and concludes on Sunday, May 21. Each discussion runs from 2:00 pm—3:30 pm. “We invite anyone who likes good fiction and good discussion to join us,” Helicher says. The only charge is $10.00 for readers who borrow the library’s books, and there is no charge if readers either supply their own copies or buy copies from the library at a reduced cost. 

“We invite all readers to become a group member and part Upper Merion Township’s long standing literary salon tradition, Helicher concludes. 

2017 Spring Book Discussion

Discussions are led by English Professors Carla Verderame and Erin Hunt of West Chester University. You can register either via our online calendar, or by calling or stopping by the library.  There is a $10 administrative fee for participating if borrowing the book set.  This fee is waived if the participant purchases the series (available at a discount from the library) or supplies his/her own books.  

Spring 2017 Book Discussion Series:  Click here for a detailed flyer


          The program dates and titles are:
March 26 The Greatcoat, by Helen Dunmore
April 9   The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy
April 23 The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
May 7 The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
May 21 The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

All programs will meet from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
          The Participation Policy (effective Fall 2011) is as follows:  There is an administrative charge of $10 per series to participate in the Sunday book discussions for participants who choose to borrow the book set from the library.  There will be no charge if the participant supplies his or her own copies of the books, or if the participant purchases all of the books for the series from the library. Call 610-265-4805, stop in at the library to register

Book chat
An author interview program. Check here for the schedule to watch it on UMGA-TV

One Book One Community

Each Summer the library sponsors a discussion of a single title chosen to stir community discussion of a timely or social topic. Prior years' selections have included Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini; Still Alice by Lisa Genova; The Help by Kathryn Stockett and We is Got Him by Carrie Hagen.

The 2014 One Book, One Community book selection is The Spirit Keeper:
K.B. Laugheed on July 10th.

The Spirit Keeper is a captivity narrative which begins in 1747 when a 17-year-old girl is removed from her frontier Pennsylvania home during an Indian massacre.  As the terrified captive’s fate unfolds in the rich setting of an unexplored America, The Spirit Keeper becomes a great adventure, an irresistible romance, and a poignant account of the universal struggle for understanding, which is why there’s something for everyone in this book.

K.B. Laugheed grew up in the shadow of the site of the 1812 Battle of Tippecanoe. She is an organic gardener and master naturalist who has spent a lifetime feeding the earth, and her efforts have culminated in The Spirit Keeper, her first novel and largest contribution to the potluck so far.  She has earned a BA from IU Bloomington & an MA from the University of Dayton.

 Readers who haven’t read The Spirit Keeper, yet are invited to borrow a copy from the library and enjoy some exciting summer reading!

The “One Book, One Community” program was made possible by the Robert and Shirley Fine Endowment.

Brown Bag Book Banter
Bring your lunch and join us for an informal discussion about popular authors. Unlike most book groups, our discussion will focus on the author and his or her books rather than on a specific title. Readers are invited to begin discussion topics about what they think of an author’s books, style, characters, etc.

Previous authors discussed include Nelson DeMille, Tess Gerritsen, and Daniel Silva.