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Updated Tuesday, August 30, 2016 12:01 AM

Informal ‘book chatters’ find reading a pleasure

By Donna Hunt
Herald Democrat

There is at least one group of women in Denison who love to read and get together once a month to talk about the books they have read throughout the month.

Sometimes there are only 10 or 11 attending their informal sessions and at other times there may be 20 or so. This is not a strictly organized club and there is no president or any dues. Some who are avid readers may read multiple books and others may not have read a book at all but like to hear others talk about theirs.

Unlike most clubs whose members all read the same book and share their thoughts about it and the characters in it, we all read different books then share what we felt about the books with the others friends who attend. Kay Casey, my friend and fellow journalist who taught journalism at Denison High for a number of years, is the meeting arranger and unofficial list keeper of books we liked and those that we started then convinced ourselves that if we didn’t like it, we didn’t have to finish it.

Sometimes we meet in homes of one of the “book chatters” as we call ourselves and sometimes we treat ourselves to lunch in a restaurant. We bring books we have read and add them to the pool of books that Judy Odom, one of our avid readers, maintains. The contributed books are getting so thick that Judy encourages everyone to take three home after a gathering.

Anyone who is interested in attending one or more meetings is welcome and we love newcomers who bring new thoughts and likes to the group. Some of us speak extemporaneously at the meetings in giving brief reviews of one or more books we have read during the month. And others prepare a written report to read. Being a writer, I usually prepare my report because I prefer writing rather than speaking.

This month my review was on a strange little book and I do mean “little” one. It only measures 5 inches by 7 inches and contains 206 pages so if a reader stays with it for most of a day, it can be finished pretty quickly.

“The life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo was No. 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and sold three million copies. “Kondo has positioned herself as Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness, a warrior princess in the war on clutter,” the London Times said. The book originally was written in Japanese, then translated.

Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that once you get your house void of clutter, you don’t ever have to do it again. Can you just imagine that?

Reading this book several nights before going to bed, made me want to immediately begin decluttering my cluttered home, little office and closets. The only problem was that when I read the book so late at night, I couldn’t stay awake to get started.

Kondo suggests getting everything out of the closet at one time, handling each piece of clothing and if it didn’t give off good vibes, throw it out. There was no way I could throw it all out, so I’ve been a little slow in completing my project.

The author encourages clearing out shoes, blouses, pants, dresses, books, paper items, kitchen items and any other collection of miscellaneous items that you have been somewhat “hoarding.” She does the decluttering as a business in Japan and said she sometimes has as many as eight or ten large plastic bags to toss just from the closet that is so crammed full of clothes that it is hard to pull out one item to wear without numerous articles coming out too.

It has been three weeks now since I started, but I’ve done two closets and have two large bags of clothes to take to the shelter or a shop that recycles used clothing. I hate to say it, but my closets still are a little full. It’s not that I have so many clothes, it’s just that I never throw anything away and have or had some that were 10 years old or maybe older.

At least I’m trying, Texas girl style, and whether it works for me or not, the size of the book makes it an easy read.

I learned about the book from a friend, Patti Hampton in Reno, Nevada. She really doesn’t need to read it. Her house is always clutter free and besides, she has a basement to hide things in. Everything I have is more exposed so that could be the difference. Anyway, she suggested that we both read it and compare notes on how it is working. I’m afraid I’m the loser before we even get started comparing.

Our group formed in the late 1990s when several Denison High teachers were complaining that they had little time to read for pleasure. They, along with retired colleagues and other friends started meeting for lunch during the summer and sharing books and brief reviews.

By 2001, several members of the group had retired and the monthly meetings were continued. Nancy Terry, who taught English at Denison High, had always promised to start a book club when she retired, so she became a leading force and provided a little structure to the group. A number or those original organizers still are active today.

Kondo calls her method of decluttering the KonMart Method, which she says if followed will mean you’ll never revert to clutter again. We’ll see if that holds true if I ever get through playing touchy-feely with everything that I call my own.

Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at donnahunt554@gmail.com.



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