County Executive Declares September Chautauqua Book Club Month

Left to right: Rotary President John Healy accepts the Proclamation of Chautauqua County Book Club Month from County Executive, P.J. Wendel, in celebration of Rotary’s Literacy Month as Committee member David Troxell and Committee Chairman Diana Meckley look on.

Rotary Club of Jamestown Highlights Area Book Clubs in Support of Literacy, Understanding and Fellowship

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Rotary Club of Jamestown

Book clubs in neighborhoods, libraries and bookstores are alive, well, and thriving in Chautauqua County. September is the official International Rotary Club Literacy Month around the world and has also been proclaimed as Chautauqua County Book Club month here, locally, by County Executive P.J. Wendel. Wendel was on hand at the weekly Rotary meeting to present an official proclamation supporting literacy here and around the world. Reading books, whether on a screen or in print, is a passion for many in Chautauqua County and like a lot of life’s best activities, it is often better enjoyed with friends. Joining a book club is a great way to read, develop friendships, and understand the world around us, by sharing different opinions and values.

The Rotary Club of Jamestown’s Literacy Committee has always taken a keen interest in fostering free reading programs and opportunities throughout Chautauqua County. The proliferation of book clubs in Chautauqua County is one of our area’s hidden gems, and it is surprising just how many active clubs there are. To find out more about these local clubs, members of the Rotary Literacy Committee decided to contact some of the area’s many book clubs during the months of June and July. Rotary members visited book club meetings and interviewed many of their members to find out more about them. What the Committee discovered was that no matter the differences in the clubs might be, there is one common experience shared by them all: a strong sense of friendship and positive purpose in sharing literature from novels to biographies, history to drama, and science to science fiction.

Many of the area book clubs are made up of 6 to 10 members, with several having 25 or 30 members. The clubs are as varied as their membership. Meeting places vary from homes to churches, restaurants and libraries. Some book clubs don’t meet in the summer months and some meet only in the summer. Most choose books to read to discuss among its members. One club sponsored by Novel Destinations Book Store in Jamestown has its individual members read their own choice of books based on a given topic. For instance, the March theme was green, so the variety of books went from money to the environment to anything Irish. Their upcoming topic for September will be banned books. There is even a Zen book club for the metaphysically minded.

Connie Guronski, of the Bemus Point book club shared that their club has a fixed membership of 12 and has been meeting for 21 years in individual homes. “We started with a core group of teachers and nurses who began this book club prior to retiring so that we would have a group that focused on the topics we were all interested in.” In a very typical sentiment, Bill Downe, a member of Summer Books, in Jamestown, commented: “It is hard to overstate the sense of warmth and fun that comes from meeting regularly with people dedicated to reading and understanding good books.”

The importance of literacy and the role it plays in a person’s success in life cannot be emphasized enough, and area book clubs are a major force in our county to encourage, develop, and promote reading for pleasure, friendship, and community.

A great starting place to find a book club is by asking at your local library. Visit the Chautauqua Cattaraugus County Library System at:

The Rotary Club of Jamestown has a history of supporting literacy within the Jamestown public school system in shared reading development programs and supports free bookshelves in three area laundromats.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Rotary Club of Jamestown and their activities both locally and abroad, please visit