TROY — People who live in the Troy area don’t have to enroll in a college literature class to discuss books.
A book discussion group continues to be offered at the Allen F. Pierce Free Library in Troy.
Currently, 31 people are involved in the book discussion group, according to librarian Sue Wolfe.
Several years ago, the group started as a result of Pennsylvania Humanities grant funding. That funding is no longer available, but the group has continued under the direction of Dr. Abby Werlock.
“Everybody liked to do it, and Abby is willing to give the time to oversee it,” Wolfe commented.
“She has a list of questions,” Wolfe explained of Werlock’s approach in facilitating the group. She added, however, that “sometimes it’s just free fall” and people are asked about what they think about various aspects of the book being discussed.
“She knows how to lead the group, and she enjoys it,” Wolfe said of Werlock.
She noted that both older and younger people take part in the book discussion group.
“They discuss the author and they discuss the characters, and what the author did with the characters,” she said.
While there are “no heated debates,” Wolfe said members of the book discussion group “really get into it.”
“They kind of say what they like or don’t like about the book, and why did the author do this or that.”
Participants are just “able to enjoy a good book and discuss it with people who like the same kind of literature,” she noted.
Members of the book discussion group can buy the book that is being discussed or get assistance from the library, which will help make the book available through an inter-library loan or other means.
The group discusses one book per month for four months, taking a break in the summer and winter months.
On May 13, the group will tackle “This Boy’s Life: A Memoir” by Tobias Wolff.
Mallory Babcock, a former member of the group, recalled, “we got to read some great books and have some great discussion.”
She thought it was an opportunity to “get away for the evening and enjoy conversation.”
“Abby does a wonderful job as the moderator,” she added.
Babcock thought the discussion on the book “The Help” was “very interesting, because we had both men and women in the group.”
“They really got into that,” Wolfe recalled of the group’s discussion of “The  Help.” “They discussed how it was a real-life situation, more or less, really like that back then.”
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the story is about “sharply defined black and white characters in the nascent years of the civil rights movement.” It draws out the “daily humiliation and pain the maids are subject to, as well as their abiding affection for their white charges.”
According to Babcock, the book discussion group allows participants to better understand a book and the author’s method of writing.
“It opened me up to books I probably would have not picked to read myself,” she commented.
A couple years ago, Babcock recalled, the group read several books about the Civil War and then took a trip to Gettysburg, with their own travel guide.
She highly recommends the book discussion group to anyone “who wants to widen their vision as to what they want to read and who enjoys a good discussion.”
Babcock noted that some people in the group have “a whole different take on the book, and you say, ‘oh, I didn’t think of it that way.’”
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com