Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 45

past and the group is still very much alive and kicking, just
not eye-high kicks.
For the Happy Bookers, fun is the spice that adds flavors
to their meetings and lives. " I like to have fun, " Lisa says. " I
like to be silly and to dress up, and I wanted my kids to see
that reading is fun. Definitely, it's the fun that has kept our
book club going for the last 27 years. "
Having a good time comes easily to members of the Happy Bookers. At one meeting a year, the members shed their
inhibitions and slip into costumes, dressing up as characters in a book they have just read. Not taking themselves
too seriously means that an honorary title is bestowed on
any member who not only hosts a meeting at her house,
but also volunteers to lead the discussion that month. That
person carries the title of " Grand Poobah. " On the day of
the meeting, the host has the honor of placing in her front
yard the group's colorful banner that lets neighbors know
that the Happy Bookers are meeting.
One of those meetings can last a couple of hours or
more. Of course, food is an important part of Happy Bookers meetings, whether it's a light snack or a dinner based
on a meal mentioned in that month's book. Early last year,
the group snacked on a cherry dish after reading a story
in which the main character's wife ate ciambella, a cake
topped with cherries. The Happy Bookers aren't the only
book club to enjoy snacks or beverages related to a story
they have read. But they are one of the few groups to be
highlighted by the " The Book Club Cookbook. " At meetings
they sometimes sip Missouri wines and have been known
to try recipes from " Tequila Mockingbird, " a book featuring
book-themed drinks.
Sharing a snack or meal and having thoughtful
discussions are only part of the recipe for a successful book
club. The Happy Bookers also make a point of traveling
together, choosing places and events connected to their
reading. Quick trips to Columbia or other mid-Missouri
towns to hear local authors are routine, and they plan to go
the extra miles together to a favorite bookstore in Kansas
City. Their longest journey so far has been their 1,000-mile
road trip to Jefferson, Texas, where they had makeovers
at Beauty and the Book, which claimed to be the only

combination salon/bookstore in the United States.
Lisa says they hope to find time to attend Columbia's
Unbound Book Festival, which brings book lovers and
authors together for several days of discussion each spring.
This year the festival will be held online. Alex George,
founder and director of the festival, is a fan of book clubs
and speaks to them frequently. He believes book clubs have
a positive impact on their members but finds it's difficult to
pin down how book clubs affect a community. " That's because, mostly, nobody hears about them, " Alex says. " Then
you have the ladies in Linn marching in parades. Anything
that promotes books and encourages people to read is, to
my mind, a good thing. "
Another good thing is that the Happy Bookers have become something of a support group for its members. " We've
been through sad times, and there have been wonderful
happy times, " Lisa says. " We always keep in touch, especially if someone is down and needs support. "
There's something about sharing thoughts and feelings
about books that opens people up to each other and encourages friendships. Rita Starnes, who has been a Happy
Booker since its first meeting, now lives in Jefferson City
but gladly travels back to Linn for the group's meetings.
" People reveal themselves when talking about books, " she
says. " You bond over books. "
After 27 years, the Happy Bookers have no intention of
disbanding. " As long as we can still see to read, there's a
core group of us that'll keep meeting, " says Carol Stamp, a
15-year veteran of the group.
Lisa shares that commitment. " I'll keep doing it even if
there's only one other person beside me, " she says. Besides,
the group has some unfinished business to attend to. They
never went on their 20th anniversary trip they had been
planning. A wedding and the birth of two grandchildren
took priority. It may not be conventional to celebrate a 20th
anniversary seven or more years later, but then, there's
little that's conventional about the Happy Bookers.
For more information on the Happy Bookers, email Lisa
Klebba at jlklebba@gmail.com.
Wax is a freelance writer from Columbia.

Left: Former members, Mary Lou Schulte and June Hoffman, dressed in period costumes for a meeting of the book club. Right: Recently, the group discussed
" Tony's Wife " by Adriana Trigiani. They dressed to match the main character's image on the book cover.
photos courtesy Lisa Klebba
photo courtesy Lisa Klebba

FEBRUARY 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

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Rural Missouri - February 2021

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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Contents
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