Santa Maria group meets through phone conferences
Members of a Santa Maria book club aren’t letting COVID-19 restrictions deter them from enjoying each other’s company and reading the books they love.
Since the onset of the pandemic’s lockdown, the Valley Reads Book club has been able to continue its regular monthly meetings through phone conferences. Known as “Book Club over the Phone,” the group meets virtually at 2 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month.
The club is associated with the Santa Maria Public Library.
During this week’s meeting, club members discussed “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, a 36-year-old neurosurgeon who was forced to confront his own mortality after receiving a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis.
The book is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling memoir that discusses some of life’s biggest questions about death and mortality.
After reading the book in July, club members expressed their thoughts, opinions and questions at Tuesday’s meeting. Many members said they found the book to be very moving and saw parallels between Mr. Kalanithi’s life and their own.
Mary Jarvis, a retired assistant superintendent for business services for the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, has been a club member since 2016. She told the News-Press she found “When Breath Becomes Air” to be very uplifting and the author to be philosophical.
Originally from Illinois, Mrs. Jarvis said the club’s in-person meetings have been canceled since March. However, since then, the club has created themes for each month to make the teleconference meetings more fun.
Although the meetings aren’t the same experience as being there in person, Mrs. Jarvis said the library’s technician, Jose Gaytan, has been “very nimble and creative” in seeing unforeseen glitches. Mrs. Jarvis added that because of the group’s members, the impromptu teleconference club meetings are still a lot of fun.
“It’s always great when people have really insightful comments on the book, and I appreciate that about this group,” Mrs. Jarvis said.
After discussing Mr. Kalanithi’s book, club members chose “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley as their book to read for August.
Following the success of conducting “Book Club over the Phone,” the Santa Maria Public Library is also offering a new program to engage community members during COVID known as “Movie Talks” where members watch the same movie and discuss it via teleconferencing just like “Book Club over the Phone.”