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Super Summer Reader Club Week 2: Celebrating little libraries and reading |

Super Summer Reader Club Week 2: Celebrating little libraries and reading

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It’s time to join the 2016 Super Summer Reader Club. STAFF VIDEO BY SUSAN LOYER

If you have driven through Peapack-Gladstone recently, near the intersection of Main Street and Pottersville Road, you may have noticed a small wooden box, atop a pedestal, filled with books.

This box is part of a growing global phenomenon, Little Free Libraries. The small street-side book exchanges number 40,000 around the world in 70 countries; this is the first one represented in the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey.

Based on a “take a book, return a book” concept, neighbors share their favorite books and stories. Anyone can take a book and bring back another to share whenever it is convenient. There are no business hours, library cards or due dates.

On June 14,, the Friends of the Peapack Gladstone Library, along with the Jockey Hollow Weavers, sponsored and dedicated this Little Free Library to the memory of longtime resident Sara Henderson. According to a library system news release, Henderson championed literacy for years at a local level. She worked as an employee at two local libraries and, post retirement, continued as a volunteer in town.

The Friends of the Peapack Gladstone Library will steward Gladstone’s Little Free Library year-round; books are available for adults, teens and children.

This sounds like the perfect destination for members of the MyCentralJersey.com Super Summer Reader Club. Drop off a book that you read and loved, then take a new one to try out.

This enterprise reflects the very spirit that has animated the Super Summer Reader Club for the past two decades-plus. We simply want everyone reading and loving books.

READ:Be part of the summer reading triathlon

GET INVOLVED: Summer reading programs in Central Jersey libraries

BOOK SUGGESTIONS: Our Mondays with Authors series

READ: What’s your summer reading list?

This is the second official week of the 2016 program, and we continue to get new club members on a daily basis, though the reviews are a bit slow in coming in this year. We only have a few to share this week.

Joining the club is simple: Just pledge to read a minimum of five books this summer, and then start reading. Readers who send us reviews of their work will be eligible to get tickets to our Aug. 25 author celebration at TD Bank Ballpark — home of the Somerset Patriots — in Bridgewater, and to take part in a reading celebration planned for Aug. 27 at Barnes Noble in Bridgewater.

Remember that all ages are welcomed to be Super Summer Reader Club members. We just want everyone reading.

Children can either mail their pledge coupons and reviews to us, or email them to ssreader@MyCentralJersey.com. The pledge coupon will be published on Sundays and Mondays, and will be available online. We also distributed coupons to libraries in our four-county region, so as you join your library’s program, you also can join the Super Summer Reader Club.

On Mondays in the July and August newspapers, we are writing reading-related stories, and sharing book reviews from our Super Summer Reader Club members. Here a few we received this past week. Enjoy — and please start sending more in. We want to share your reviews with everyone, and to see you at the events next month.

Elaine Bellock, Colonia

“Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” by Anna Quindlen. I was expecting more from this book. The author talks about the fact that we change as we get older. Our bodies change, and our experiences change the way we see things and look at things. Okay. Not a new idea. She and I grew up at about the same time. Women’s expectations have changed dramatically. In the 50’s most women expected to get married and raise a family. Most of them didn’t expect to be working their entire lives. Now that isn’t the case. Okay. Not a new idea. As I read I thought, “Yes, yes, but tell me something I don’t already know.” The book is not long but sometimes I thought a short chapter would never end. I plowed through anyway. Anna Quindlen is a very successful author. I’m sure there are many people whose opinions of this book differ from mine. I was disappointed. I thought the best part of the book was the title.

“Comfort Food” by Kate Jacobs. This book isn’t great but it isn’t awful, either. It might be the type of book you would pick up and read while on vacation. You don’t have to think a whole lot while you’re reading it. I would be surprised if many men would be interested in it so I guess you might call it chick lit. However, that term kind of makes me think of a younger protagonist.

The main character is a woman named Gus. Gus has something in common with Paula Deen. Paula Deen was a single mother who raised two boys by opening a restaurant. Eventually, she appeared on TV and came out with her own line of pots and other kitchen items, the sale of which increased her income. The Gus in our story was widowed at a young age and supported herself and her two young daughters by opening a small restaurant. She, too, wound up on television and became very successful. She sold cookbooks and had her own line of cookware and other kitchen items. as well. However, her personality was more laid back than that of Paula Deen. She was more the composed hostess who made all her guests, whether in person or on TV, feel comfortable and welcome. She just enjoyed cooking for people.

Gus was approaching a milestone birthday and suddenly realized that she wasn’t as young as she used to be. In fact, she was beginning to feel old. Just at this time, her producer let her know that the ratings for her TV show were going down and that she would have to think of some way to make her show stand out from the many new cooking related offerings on cable. Here’s Gus with no idea how to spice up her program beyond the infusion of the spicy new cohost (picture a Sofia Vergara who cooks) and dealing with a producer/culinary assistant she hasn’t even met. Gus feels threatened by her younger and prettier cohost. On top of it all, if the ratings for this show don’t go up, she won’t have a job anymore. Her personal life isn’t all peaches and cream, either. Gus doesn’t have a close relationship with either of her daughters. She doesn’t understand why that should be so. She has done everything she can for them.

There are romantic affiliations and breakups among some of the characters, as you might expect. Gus is also dealt another unpleasant blow (a biggie) during the time that she’s trying to salvage her cooking program. How does it all wind up? Hmm. The title of the book doesn’t make it sound like a tragedy, does it?

Sandra Donofrio, North Brunswick

“Those Who Save Us” by Jenna Blum. I was at first hesitant to read a 500-page book about the Holocaust as a summer read, thinking a lighter subject would be more enjoyable, but once I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down. I consumed it in about a week. This extraordinary novel is not merely another story about the atrocities of World War II, but memorializes through two generations that which is remembered and cannot be forgotten.

The novel recounts the story of Anna and Trudy, mother and daughter, in Germany during World War II, and jumps back and forth to current times in the 1990s. As a young child, Trudy is at her mother’s side during the war and witnesses some very awful things on a day-to-day basis. Her mother, Anna, does everything in her power to protect Trudy, physically, but cannot undo the psychological damage.  In later years, Trudy cannot understand her dreams, nightmares and memories; Anna will not speak about the past.  Finally Trudy must accept what pieces of the truth she learns.

Super Summer Reader Club ‘rules’

Paul Grzella is general manager/editor of the Courier News/Home News Tribune/MyCentralJersey.com; 908-243-6601; pgrzella@gannettnj.com

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