Ventnor Library helps seniors enjoy ‘reckless reading’

Provided/Myrna, Lois and Joan show off the current book club pick, ‘Save Me’ by Lisa Scottoline.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – Reckless Readers have a way with words. A group of seniors at Seashore Gardens Living Center enjoys reading and sharing their insights, with wisdom honed from decades of experience. The group met in the SGLC atrium to discuss their most recent pick, “Save Me” by local author Lisa Scottoline. That’s when the fun began.

The story was about an overprotective mom forced to make a difficult choice when an explosion rips through her daughter’s school. Does she go in search of her daughter de ella or save the children near her, including her daughter’s bully de ella?

“She should save her daughter,” was the general consensus. Yet the discussion didn’t stop there. The residents explored a range of topics related to the story, from helicopter parenting to mother-daughter relationships, bullying and discrimination, and making difficult choices. They shared personal experiences from their own families, such as Shelley, who told the story of her daughter de ella being bullied for wearing eyeglasses.

“It’s always a great, interesting discussion,” said Assistant Director of Recreation Cindy Weinraub who runs the group with help from her local library. “The Ventnor Library has been such an ally and support,” she said. “They assist with recommendations and help me to get multiple copies of the books, including those in large print. I can’t thank the librarians enough for making this possible.”

It’s a labor of love for Atlantic County Library/Ventnor Branch Manager Jaimie Vigue and her staff, which includes Cynthia Walker, who runs the library’s Into the Evening Book Club, Principal Library Assistant Kelly Cannon, and Children’s Librarian Alexa Zbieranowski.

“We have a number of book clubs where we provide the books,” Vigue said. “We love to support our local community and we have a section devoted to book groups.”

Assistant Director of Recreation Cindy Weinraub leads the discussion at the Reckless Readers Book Club in the Seashore Gardens Living Center Atrium.

The section usually includes new releases and some self-published local authors. To be considered for the book group, the library must have at least a dozen books in large print, regular print and books on CD or able to be downloaded on an eReader.

“Reading is a way to expand your horizons, keep your brain sharp, and fulfill your imagination,” she noted. “Reading can transport you to a different place. We are happy to provide this service for those who can’t get to the library, as with the residents at Seashore Gardens.”

Each month, Weinraub picks up the books at the Ventnor Library and distributes them to the Reckless Readers, who live in both assisted living and in the long-term care neighborhood of the home. She prints out a summary of the book to remind residents of the plot, and uses questions to guide the discussion.

“The book group has been a wonderful activity for years,” Weinraub said. “It even continued throughout the pandemic. While we couldn’t meet in person, we were able to distribute the books and the questions, and stay connected that way.”

Over the years, she’s had authors participate, including KT Roberts, who gifted the residents her book, “Blind Retribution,” and who visited the book group twice. Ventnor author Molly Golubcow also visited the book club, and gave resident copies of her memoir, “The Hotel on St. James Place: Growing Up in Atlantic City between the Boardwalk and the Holocaust.”

Weinraub said the book club is her favorite activity with seniors because it’s intellectual, stimulating and heartfelt.

“Age is no limit to reading,” she said. “Doris is one of our quickest, most perceptive readers and she is 100 years young.”

“I’ve always read because you learn something every time you do,” Doris said. “It was harder to make time for reading when I was busy with the family. Now that I have all of this free time, reading is my greatest pleasure.”

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