“On the same page” is a series featuring Utah book clubs.
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LAYTON — Carol Morgan, one of the five founding members of the Layton-based book club the Belletristic Literary Club, is 92 years old. She isn't even the oldest in the group — one of her fellow founding members has her beat by a year. With 62 years behind them, the Belletristic book club has seen a lot, but according to Morgan, not much has changed.
"I was interested in looking (through our book club's) scrapbook and the only thing that's changed in 62 years are the three prefix numbers (to my phone number)," Morgan said. "Other than that my telephone is still the same ... the last four digits haven't changed."
The following interview has been formatted for clarity.
Deseret News: Where did the book club name, the Belletristic Literary Club, come from?
Carol Morgan: It is the adjective derived from the French phrase "bellette," meaning beautiful writing, I guess. It’s in some dictionary.
DN: How did your book club start?
CM: It came about on a summer day in 1956 during a camping and fishing trip of about four or five of the women who were interested in forming a club. They decided that they would like to form a book club, so when they got home from the fishing trip, they got busy and started that fall.
DN: Is there a genre of books that are typically reviewed?
CM: (We choose) not to all read the same book, but (each member chooses a book) to review. It’s amazing how often we went out and bought the book to read after hearing it reviewed.
One of the members happened to be my older sister Oma Wilcox (and she said) if you didn’t know what kind of a book to review, choose a biography or an autobiography because we are all interested in the lives of prominent people. The first book review that she gave was a biography of the British royal family.
DN: How have your meetings changed throughout the years, or have they?
CM: There were originally 20 members of the club, and there are five still living. And it’s very well attended. We (met in the evening) for many years when we had young children at home, but now we meet in the afternoons at our homes. If it is a real hardship on anyone to have it at their home, then they have it at a restaurant in a private room or something. At the time, it was just a very nice evening with women friends. We did not keep minutes of the meetings, but we have a membership booklet with the list of ones to host us and the ones to give a book review.
(Today our meetings) are just in a home with light refreshments and one of the members has chosen a book to review and we limit it to anywhere from a half hour to around 45 minutes for the book and then some time to discuss anything we wish to — very simple. We began with $3 of dues just to cover any expenses and it has only risen to a whole $5 now, just so it’s not a burden on anyone.
DN: What have you learned or gained from being a part of the Belletristic Literary Club?
CM: I guess the friendships enjoyed during the years has been one of the most valuable things. And, to keep reading. It has certainly been a friendship-solidifying group to be with friends every month. Some books that I wouldn’t have chosen to read have been delightful from the viewpoint of the friend that gave the book review. And some have been quite personal ones, like a Warren Buffett book ("How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy") about buying out the RC Willey company. It was very interesting to read his book on something that a lot of us had been involved with in our families. (I've learned) to read things always with a mindset that it might be something you would enjoy sharing with the Belletristic friends.
The Belletristic Literary Club Recommends:
"Tales of the Alhambra" by Washington Irving, Henry Colburn, 607 pages (nf)
"All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir" by Emma Lou Warner Thayne and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Aspen Books, 240 pages (nf)
"First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives" by Margaret Truman, 384 pages, (nf)
"Twelve Mormon Homes: Visited in Succession on a Journey Through Utah to Arizona (1874)" by Elizabeth Kane, 168 pages, (nf)
"How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy: The R.C. Willey Story" by Jeff Benedict, Shadow Mountain, 168 pages, (nf)
"Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner, Modern Library, 368 pages, (f)
"A Nice Little Town" by Robert D. Christensen, 158 pages, (f)
"The Carving of Mount Rushmore" by Rex Alan Smith, Abbeville Press, 416 pages, (nf)
"Seven Miracles That Saved America: Why They Matter and Why We Should Have Hope" by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart, Shadow Mountain, 356 pages, (nf)
"Three Cups of Tea" Greg Mortenson, Penguin, 349 pages, (nf)