Newspaper's support of reading includes stories, reviews and a book club

Shelf Life: Rachael Mason

Across the country, newspapers, both large and small, are cutting their books coverage. As an avid reader, I think this is a real shame.

Presumably, if people are reading a newspaper, then they also enjoy books. And where better to turn for stories about local and national writers, as well as book reviews that you can trust and respect?

At the Gwinnett Daily Post, however, we plan to continue writing about the world of publishing, including features on local authors and staff-produced book reviews.

In fact, I'm proud of how we have been able to support the literary community. Since I started working here in 2001, we've increased our books coverage to include two weekly pages that appear in the Sunday lifestyle section and introduced a calendar of literary events.

We also added this column. Writing it each week is one of my favorite parts of my job.

The paper also sponsors monthly book club meetings that serve as a gathering place for locals who love to read. Each month, the members of the lifestyle staff choose a different book, often challenging the book club members to read something they wouldn't otherwise pick up.

The club, which started meeting in 2003, has been successful so far. The first book we read was "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Since then, we've tackled more than 40 titles, ranging from Southern stories such as "Between, Georgia" by Joshilyn Jackson and "Sweetwater Creek" by Anne Rivers Siddons to nonfiction like "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson and "Possible Side Effects" by Augusten Burroughs.

Over the years, several authors have joined us at book club meetings. They include Haywood Smith, author of "The Red Hat Club," and Patti Callahan Henry, author of "Where the River Runs" and "Losing the Moon."

Most recently, California author Gayle Brandeis realized she would be in Atlanta for a conference on the same date as our book club meeting. Brandeis came straight from the airport to join our discussion of her novel "Self Storage."

Though we usually only see each other once a month, the book club regulars have become friends of mine.

Still, the group is always ready to welcome new members. Meetings are free and open to the public. In addition to great book discussions, we always have a nice selection of snacks.

If you'd like to find out more about the book club, come to our social at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the meeting room at the Collins Hill branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library. The library is located at 455 Camp Perrin Road in Lawrenceville. The social, which will feature book giveaways (and snacks), will celebrate the fourth anniversary of the book club.

I hope to see you there. It will be a great chance for us to talk about books. If you haven't already realized, I have a lot to say when it comes to reading.

To find out more about the book club, call Rachael Mason at 770-963-9205, ext. 1324, or e-mail rachael.mason@gwinnettdailypost.com.