LitClub:  MCC Reads Downtown
Manchester Community College—Manchester, Connecticut

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MANCHESTER Community College, as part of its belief in lifetime learning, initiated an evening book club to foster greater ties with the local community.

Why the "Downtown" in your name?
"MCC on Main," our college annex, is right in the middle of town. It's a great space with class and conference rooms, and it's where we meet—"downtown." (Photo, left.)

You've been around for nearly two years. How many  members?
For the past semester, we've had 11 members and four instructors.

And the instructors are  from the college?
Right. The group is led by college librarians and the bookstore assistant manager.

You said "semesters"...? Like school? Are members graded??

Not even secretly?

Okay. So tell us what you've been reading recently.
Here's our list from the past couple of semesters.

Spring 2013:
The Dog Star
The Buddha In the Attic
North River

Summer 2013:
The House I Loved
Bel Canto

Fall 2013:
Amy & Isabelle
Odds Against Tomorrow
The Year of Wonders
The Aviator's Wife
The Newlyweds

Spring 2014: (Books written or about the 1960s)
Travels With Charley
The Things They Carried
The Golden Notebook
The Group
Revolutionary Road

Very impressive. Any favorites?
The Aviator's Wife and Revolutionary Road were arguably the most popular.

We all very much enjoyed The Year of WondersThe Buddha In the Attic and Persuasion.

What about especially good discussions?
The Things They Carried was a spirited and emotional discussion because of the subject matter, the Vietnam War. Most of the members remembered first hand how the war effected their lives and the lives of some of their loved ones.

Any disappointments?
The Golden Notebook proved challenging and dense. To quote Paula, the instructor for that title, "it was a horror show of a novel."
The House I Loved was met with mixed reviews because of an unsympathetic narrator.

Do you do anything outside your regular meetings?
We often have dinner afterwards at Bui, a local Vietnamese Restaurant across the street (photos, above left). At other times, a member might host dinner at her home.

What would you like us to take away knowing about you?
The idea for the club grew not only from the college's desire to engage with the community...but also from community's desire to come together. We believe we foster thoughtful and deep reading, and just as important, we've formed friendships.

Finally, we come together to enjoy books and discussion—and to learn something about the world, history, society, and our own emotions.

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