From The Blog
Sandcastle Book Club Has a Long History and a Long Membership List
The Sandcastle Book Club begins the 2021-22 season on Sept. 20 with Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. After more than 20 years and a handful of club chairs, the book club boasts over 140 listed members; 20-40 of whom typically attend each session, although attendance declined during the many months of pandemic-compelled Zoom meetings. Current club chairs Frances Boyd and Peg Michel are delighted to return to in-person sessions this year.
The book club started as a function of the social group POPS (Property Owner Parties), but eventually, the club moved under KICA’s umbrella. It is now called the Sandcastle Book Club, though it now occasionally meets at Beachwalker Center, and meets monthly beginning each September.
Recent book club co-chairs have enjoyed the work and tended to have a multi-year tenure. Frances Boyd has been a co-chair for about ten years and has no imminent plans for retirement. Peg Michel took over from Mary Hoffman when Mary decided to focus on the Sandcastle Lending Library. Previous chair Lynn Morgenstern stepped down only when she was elected to the KICA board, which at the time had a conflicting meeting schedule. (Frances and Peg have now changed the schedule to avoid that conflict.)
Club membership is open to any KICA member, and formal registration is not required for attendance. While not specifically a women’s group, the group is heavily female.
Club members choose the books for the next year each spring from member suggestions. Frances compiles a list and sends it to registered members with brief synopses. Members vote for their top nine choices (each season has nine meetings). Frances then schedules the book discussions, putting the top choices in months that historically have had the highest attendance. Club members volunteer to run the meetings, presenting the book with a summary and some background about the author, and leading the discussion of questions they have prepared in advance.
Frances, Peg and several former chairs noted the serious, orderly and intellectual tenor of meetings. “We have set the bar pretty high for the level of discussion. The rule is, please don’t have sidebars, and don’t be bashful,” said Frances. Attendees expect informative introductions and to learn from the discussion. Frances says that her educational background (as a teacher and middle school administrator) kicks in and she will sometimes call on people she senses want to speak. Discussions are lively, with plenty of different perspectives and disagreement.
Special events are sometimes interspersed with book discussions. Occasionally an author will come to speak. Frances once taped and presented an interview with an author. The group had joint luncheons annually in January with the Briars Creek and Kiawah Island Club book clubs before the COVID shutdown. When Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, spoke to the Kiawah Conservancy, the book club read her book. A subgroup had a discussion of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste, and some attendees were so engrossed that they decided to continue with future discussions of race. Before COVID, eight members typically took a table at the Post and Courier’s popular semi-annual Book and Author luncheon.
Current and former chairs are unanimous in their praise of the book club. They describe it as fulfilling, intellectually stimulating and, a place to meet friends—especially for new residents. If you would like to give the Sandcastle Book Club a try, whether or not you have read the book, come to The Sandcastle at 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20.