The Open Books project for seniors was created to actively engage seniors via literature. This project through Small Press Distribution in Berkeley, and funded by the Marin Community Foundation, has enabled seniors to read independently published books available through three bookgroups. Marin County Free Library has been involved in this project for the last two years and is fortunate to offer it again in early 2013.
Three bookclubs have participated in this grant—San Geronimo Valley Seniors, Ross Valley Seniors and Alma Latina at the Margaret Todd Center in Novato. We were fortunate to have two local authors to facilitate the bookclubs—Rita Lakin, local mystery writer, and Sol Villasenor, poet. I had the privledge of attending most of the discussions and was so moved by the sharing of personal reflections relating to each book.
In Keeping Time, the group brought family historical documents to share with each other. It was fascinating and touching to see each participant light up as they spoke of their long gone ancestors and their struggles to find a home in America. Each shared document was a treasured piece of family history.
One of my favorite experiences was after reading Only What We Could Carry, a collection of essays about the Japanese interment camps. A son brought his father, who was suffering from dementia, to the bookgroup to share stories of his father and his uncles’ series of watercolors created in an interment camp in California. We were all in tears.
Ocotillo Dreams spurred a hesitant discussion of illegal immigration, a topic that proved very delicate as revealed by the many awkward silences. A clear time of reflection for all involved.
All the groups loved the Old Whitaker Place. This book looked at the many decisions facing an aging man and his son as he helps his father find his new reality.
I knew these senior booklcubs would be an important addition to the library but had no idea how they would touch each of the members. You will find these books in a new list in the books section of our webpage, entitled Seniors Engaged in Literature.
Take home one of these reads and see what they stir in your memory.