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Read what's in the bag

I was never much of a joiner. Sororities and circles never drew me in. And even with tennis, which I loved playing as an individual, I dropped the ball when it became a group thing. But book clubs - now that's something else.

As far back as sixth grade, my friends Carol, Linda, Sharyn and I, inspired by a book we'd read, formed a club that met in the branches of a huge apple tree to discuss books like "Anne of Green Gables" and "Nancy Drew" - and, well, yes, boys, too.

When I moved to Gwinnett, the Ridgeland Forest Book Club welcomed me as a member. The club took many forms in the five years that it lasted. We started out meeting while our kids were in mother's morning out and had great beginnings. When we read "The Road Less Traveled," a local priest who'd studied under F. Scott Peck led our discussion. Author Terry Kay lived in the neighborhood and graciously discussed his novel "Dark Thirty."

But as we entered and exited various stages of pregnancy and pre-schooling, we became burdened with more "kid stuff" to keep track of. It was hard to stay focused on much more than the list of nutrients on a cereal box, much less a 500-page novel. And way back then, no matter what book we wanted to read, the entire library system had only one copy that the eight of us had to share in a three-week check-out period.

So, we started reading books from the juvenile section. They were quick reads and offered as much information as our overloaded brains could handle, and we could pass them around in less than a week for our discussion. A few of us then evolved into a house-cleaning service (it's a long story) and conducted book club discussions while we cleaned for people who were retired or worked at home.

My current book club consists of women who are at a point in life where they have time to read, but not necessarily much time to do research. And most books don't come with Cliffs Notes.

So, I was thrilled when Cindy Murphy of the Gwinnett County Public Library told me about their new Book Club to Go! Kits. The big blue bag with specially selected titles in sets of 10 copies also contains supporting information such as discussion guides, book reviews, a short author biography, general resources for book discussion groups and other items, such as related DVDs. Book Club to Go! kits can be checked out for eight weeks and may be renewed if no one has requested them.

For information, visit any library branch or www.gwinnettpl.org .

If you don't belong to a book club, why not start one? With a Book Club to Go! Kit, all you have to do is read. The rest is a no-brainer.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.