“On the same page” is a regular series that features Utah book clubs.

Editor's note: If you have a book club and you are interested in being featured, please contact us at features@deseretnews.com. Please include your name, your contact information and one or two sentences describing your book club.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Book Lovers Club in Salt Lake City recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Part of the celebration included compiling a binder of memories, including each member's self-written back-handed obituary, inspired by the backlash over the obituary of "Thorn Birds" author Colleen McCullough in an Austrailian newspaper that described the best-selling novelist as "plain of feature" and "certainly overweight." This group of women has shared lots of laughs over the last 40 years and plans to keep laughing. The Deseret News spoke with longtime book club member Peggy Spute, who lives in Salt Lake City.

Deseret News: What kind of books does your club read?

Peggy Spute: We read almost everything. We read some fiction; we’ve been doing a lot of history lately. … One year was our World War II year, after which we said, "Let’s not read anymore World War II books for a while." We read “The Nightingale” and “All the Light We Cannot See," and a whole bunch like that. And we read biographies — we’re doing “Hamilton” now — we read histories, we read historical … fiction novels, we occasionally read mysteries and … young adult novels.

In honor of their 40 years together, the ladies of the Book Lovers Club put together a binder of memories, including two books they wrote together and what being a part of the book club means to them.
In honor of their 40 years together, the ladies of the Book Lovers Club put together a binder of memories, including two books they wrote together and what being a part of the book club means to them. | Peggy Spute

DN: So you’re all over the place.

PS: We’re all over the place. … There’s a night we meet in January, and everybody brings all the books they can think of and we put a big list on the board and then everybody picks a book they want to do and a month they want to do it in, and that’s how we do our schedule. Then everybody reads the book and we come and talk about it.

DN: What have you learned or gained from being involved in this book group?

PS: Oh, I have gained 12 wonderful friends. The women are very different, very talented, very diverse, and we all feel safe and secure in saying what we feel. … It’s a really safe place to be (with) friends that are just true friends. That’s been the most valuable thing. And then I’ve read books I would never read otherwise and have loved them. I think those are the most valuable things.

DN: What did you do at your anniversary party?

PS: Well, we ate, first of all. And then we passed out the books that we had made. Four of us finished putting them together at 6:15 (p.m.), the club started at 6:30 (p.m.).

DN: You put together a book for the book club? Would you tell me about that?

PS: Each of the women wrote a statement of what book club means to her, and then I put their pictures in with it. And then we wrote up the list of all the people that had been in book club from the beginning, and we put in funny or memorable book clubs. … We wrote obituaries for ourselves and we put that in. We had pages of pictures of our Christmas dinners and things like that that we put in and then a list of all the books that we’ve ever read. … And then we put in our two stories that we wrote — we wrote a mystery and a gothic novel. … One person would write a page or so and then the next book club they’d pass it off to the next person, and they would write a page and then pass it on, until we got to the end.

DN: How did writing those books start?

Members of the Book Lovers Club pose for a photo at their 40th anniversary party.
Members of the Book Lovers Club pose for a photo at their 40th anniversary party. | Peggy Spute

PS: I think we were reading a mystery at the time or something and we said, "That’d be fun" — several of us like to write — and we thought, "Oh it’d be fun to write one," and we just kind of got all excited. … And then we got done with the mystery and we thought, that was fun … how about a gothic novel, because it’s … kind of campy. So we did that. It was just something fun we decided to do.

DN: Do you have anything else coming up for your book club?

PS: In August …. two of (the members) have a cabin up in Big Cottonwood, and then another lady has a cabin up there too, so we usually go up on Friday night and sleepover at (one) cabin, and then we go to (the other) cabin the next morning for a really wonderful breakfast. Then we kind of sit around the afternoon, talking about a book. And we’ve done that for years and loved that. And then after that, we always have a Christmas party, bring things for each other, sometimes we read Christmas stories to each other, and then every year we have our planning meeting … and we have trifle and it’s wonderful. And then we have a book club dinner with the husbands and/or friends at the end of January. … It’s really a wonderful group of women that it’s really fun to be around.

The Book Lovers Club recommends:

"THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympic," by Daniel James Brown, Penguin Random House, 416 pages (nf)

"Death Comes for the Archbishop," by Willa Cather, Penguin Random House, 336 pages (f)

"The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency," by Alexander McCall Smith, Penguin Random House, 256 pages (f)

"Team of Rivals," by Doris Goodwin, Simon and Schuster, 944 pages (nf)

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," by Betty Smith, HarperCollins, 528 (f)

"The Marshmallow Test," by Walter Mischel, Little, Brown and Company, 336 pages (nf)

"Vinegar Girl," by Anne Tyler, Penguin Random House, 256 pages (f)

"The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom, Penguin Random House, 256 pages (nf)

"THE RIVER OF DOUBT: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey," by Candace Millard, Penguin Random House, 432 pages (nf)

"All the Light We Cannot See," by Anthony Doerr, Simon and Schuster, 544 pages (f)