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On the same page: From young mothers to grandmothers, book club keeps friendships strong

“On the same page” is a series featuring Utah book clubs and runs every other week. Editor's note: If you have a book club and you are interested in being featured, please contact us at Please include your name, your contact information and one or two sentences describing your book club.

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Since they were young wives in college, members of the Weakly Readers book club — which has the same name as another recently profiled book club— have stayed together through thick pages and thin, reading about American history, the Mormon faith, a variety of biographies and more. Current book club president Janet Peterson has been involved since the club's beginning in 1974.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Deseret News: How did the book club start?

Janet Peterson of the Weakly Reader's book club recommended "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford.
Janet Peterson of the Weakly Reader's book club recommended "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford.
Penguin Random House

Janet Peterson: We were a group of student wives living in University Village at the (University of Utah), and when our husbands all graduated, of course we moved away. And one of the women said, "Well, if we just get together for lunch that won't last — let's start a book club." So we did, and it's evolved over the years. … Kind of the core group has been together since the early '80s, but a few more people have joined, and (a) couple members have died. We started out as young mothers, and now we're grandmothers and some are even great-grandmothers.

DN: What are your meetings like?

JP: We serve our refreshments first. And then we try to start the discussion that's led by the person who chose the book. Theroetically, everybody reads the book; it's not a book review, it's a discussion. … It's a great group of women. We are good friends, and we just look forward to seeing each other. One of the benefits of course of every book club … you're introduced to books that you probably wouldn't have picked up on your own, so it's an expanding experience.

DN: What are the most memorable experiences you have had within the book club?

JP: We've occasionally invited authors to talk to us, so that's always been interesting to get the story behind the books. We had Judy Brummer in November, she's from South Africa but lives in Provo, and she wrote a book called "Spots," about growing up in South Africa. I think the most popular author we've discussed is David McCullough; we've read a number of his books. If we were going to choose an author to come speak to us, dead or alive, it would probably by David McCullough.

DN: In your opinion, what book(s) should all people in the state of Utah read?

Janet Peterson of the Weakly Reader's book club recommended "Changed Through His Grace" by Brad Wilcox.
Janet Peterson of the Weakly Reader's book club recommended "Changed Through His Grace" by Brad Wilcox.
Provided by Deseret Book

JP: That is a hard question. I would say … Wallace Stegner's "The Gathering of Zion" … or "Homeward to Zion" by William Mulder, who was a professor at the University of Utah. This was his Harvard Ph.D dissertation, which he turned into a book. That was one of our most successful book club discussions because … it's about the Scandinavian migration to Utah. Every single person had some ancestor that was from Scandinavia, so we shared about our relatives. … People were very interested in how their ancestors got to Utah.

Janet Peterson of the Weakly Readers book club recommends:

"Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time," by Dava Sobel, Bloomsbury Publishing, 208 pages (nf)

"Changed Through His Grace," by Brad Wilcox, Deseret Book Company, 224 pages (nf)

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," by Jamie Ford, Penguin Random House, 320 pages (f)

"Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia," by William Mulder, University of Minnesota Press, 392 pages (nf)

"Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See," by Erik Weihenmayer, Penguin Random House, 368 pages (nf)

"The Light Between Oceans," by M. L. Stedman, Simon & Schuster, 352 pages (f)

"The Wright Brothers," by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, 336 pages (nf)

"Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Bronte, Penguin Random House, 464 pages (f)