‘Book Talk’ promotes love of literature

It’s a chance to cultivate, as well as encourage, a love for all things literary among local citizens.

Area residents gather each month at the McMillan Memorial Library in Overton to review and discuss various pieces of literature in a program called “Book Talk.”

Colleen Randel, Book Talk coordinator said since 2002 the library has presented a speaker to review a favorite piece of literature while the attendees enjoy light refreshments.

“Award-winning journalist, poet and novelist Matthew Prosser will be the featured speaker at the next Book Talk,” she said. “It’s scheduled for noon, March 26.”

Randel said the group always meets at noon.

“We’ve done that from the beginning,” she said. “Book Talk is also always on Tuesday, but the Tuesday of the month that is selected depends upon the library schedule as well as the schedule of the presenter.”

Randel said the group is flexible except that the date of the meeting will be a Tuesday and the time will be mid-day. When the program first started she said people were invited to bring their lunch and enjoy the program.

“Some would bring their lunch and others would not,” she said. “So, after a while we decided to offer light refreshments — sandwiches, fruit and the like — to all of the people who come.”

Randel said the monthly gathering is totally funded by the Friends of the McMillan Library and has been a consistent program for adults of the area for over a decade.

“I am not sure there is another library in our area, outside of Tyler, that has a monthly program like we offer,” she said. “We are proud of what we can do with Book Talk, and we have people come from Overton, New London, Arp, Henderson, Kilgore, Tyler and even as far away as Longview.”

Officials schedule speakers one to three months in advance, and those presenters are allowed to choose the piece of literature they will review and discuss, she added.

“We have had every genre included in our discussions,” she said. “Some months it is autobiographies, while other months it is Louis L’Amour westerns or John Grisham legal thrillers. We also have poetry reviews as well.”

Author Debbie Kitchens of New London has been featured along with Sue Roberts of Arp and Rita Maxted of Overton, she commented, also mentioning Jeannie Barber of Overton, Oluwafemi Balogun of Overton and the late Glenn Elliott as others who have presented.

Randel said publicity about the meeting time and date each month is distributed through media, social media, flyers and a calling list which is manned by Jackie Roy.

The review sessions usually last one hour, but if someone goes over a bit those who need to leave can feel free to get up and walk out without any problem, Randel said.

“And, if someone only talks for 20 minutes then the attendees spend the remainder of the hour talking among themselves,” she said.

Randel commented it is nice to have a consistent group of people come, and then to throw in those who come only sporadically because of different work schedules, time schedules or other activities.

“We form relationships through this gathering,” she said. “It is just a nice atmosphere in which to hear about different people’s literary tastes.”

The literary pieces selected for review come from outside sources as well as from the library shelves, Randel said, adding that even the bestseller list of the New York Times could be a discussion item at a session to see what books the attendees have read.

“We have even purchased books for the library after hearing about them at Book Talk,” she commented.

Randel invited all residents of Rusk County to attend the monthly meetings, saying “there is always room for one more.”

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