Books are helping to create long-lasting friendships in Clyde, one chapter at a time.

A book club, launched in the town about three years ago by the Alexandra Public Library, has been praised by its members for filling a void in their lives.

In many cases, members were new to town, wanted to meet people, make friends and socialise.

Marjan Lousberg, of Clyde, fits that description.

She said in its earlier days the group was quiet as everyone sat around silently while co-ordinator Helen Rendall, of the Alexandra Public Library, talked.

“We all know each other now so it’s a real social group now.”

The group does not function like other book groups do book and then discussing it when the group next meets.

Instead, Mrs Rendall selects a theme for each meeting, such as an author whose last name starts with A.

A range of books that fit the theme, across various genres, are taken to the group, which members can select.

“That way they can read what interests them, or pushes them out [of their comfort zones] say it’.”

Their name is written down, along with the book or books they have selected, which is then added to the library database.

Members can return the book at the next meeting, or drop it off at any of the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district libraries.

From there, the books “find their way home”, Mrs Rendall said.

The only prerequisite is that members must belong to the library, which could be done online, she said.

Member Vicki Gordon said she joined the group to meet people after moving to the area.

She said it had become a social occasion, a gathering of people she now considered good friends.

The club has 35 members, who are not obliged to attend every month can.

“We can get anywhere from seven to 17 turning up to a session, but that could be different people each time,” Mrs Rendall said.

Members can talk over coffee about books they have enjoyed, or just listen, if they prefer.

One regular member read only e-books, but still attended to talk about the books available, Mrs Rendall said.

Fellow member Pam Copland, who never likes to miss a meeting, travels from Gore for the monthly gathering and then spends the rest of the weekend at her holiday home in Clyde.

The Clyde Book Club model has also been adopted in Maniototo and Cromwell.

The Clyde club meets at Olivers on the second Saturday of every month, from 10am to 11am. However, for the next two months it will be the first Saturday of the month, due to public holidays.

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