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School group an outlet for staff members

An interview with Sue Portney, media specialist at Gorman Crossing Elementary School and facilitator of the Gorman Crossing Book Club.

Why did you decide to start this club? I lead a book club for fourth- and fifth-graders at lunch time and I thought about doing it with the staff, as well. A lot of us sit around at lunch and talk, sometimes about books. The idea came up that we should formalize this and start a club.

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How long has the club been meeting? We started meeting in October. We have 10 to 15 staff members who come, and we meet every six to eight weeks.

What are you reading now? The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler. It's a chronicle about a marriage in Baltimore during World War II.

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Does your club have guidelines for your meetings? The list of questions is passed from person to person to read the questions. We start right after school and meet about 1 1/2 hours. We have no limits on what we read.

What books have generated the most discussion? The first one was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which brought a lot of people. It's a book about nurturing. Being teachers and all women, we really related to that. We also read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and we had some great talks about history and religion.

Who selects the books? We all do. The members suggest books, talk about them a little bit and then vote. We choose two members to bring refreshments and to do online research on the author and the book, and maybe bring some questions for discussion. We key our refreshments to the book we're reading.

Where do you do your online research? I use the search engine Alta Vista and just use the suggested sites based on the book. There are a couple of Web sites that cater to book clubs.


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