PROVIDENCE – Sunday, Feb. 25, was a beautiful late winter day. It was the kind of day that makes you want to shake off the winter blues, to get up, get out and get moving.
That Sunday also marked the first meeting of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center’s Not Your Average Book Club. Robin Kauffman, one of the new club’s facilitators, was concerned that no one would attend the meeting because they would be unable to resist the sunshine and mild temperatures outdoors.
It turns out that her worries were for nothing. SBHEC’s conference room was so full for the book club’s inaugural meeting that they had to pull in extra chairs to accommodate everyone who came to discuss Alyson Richman’s “The Velvet Hours.”
As Kauffman introduced the themes of the story, she told the group that a surprise had been arranged for them.
Fifteen minutes into the meeting, Kauffman’s cellphone rang. Instead of apologizing and scrambling to mute the device, she smiled and announced that the surprise had arrived: Alyson Richman was calling to join the conversation! Needless to say, everyone was thrilled to “meet” the author.
Richman talked about the book and answered questions for 45 minutes, and the conversation continued long after the call ended. Not bad for a group that advertised itself as a “no obligation” book club designed for people who might not have time to complete the reading.
Clearly, there’s nothing average about the Not Your Average Book Club.
The group plans to meet three or four times a year. The next book is “The Sandcastle Girl,” by Chris Bohjalian, which is set in Aleppo, Syria, in 1915, in the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. Watch for the date on the Bornstein Center’s Facebook page or website, www.bornsteinholocaustcenter.org.
LEV POPLOW is a communications and development consultant who writes for the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center, in Providence. He can be reached at email@example.com.