Liberty Book Club marks 100 books read as group

The Liberty Book Club has been meeting since February 2010 and by late last month, the six women had devoured 100 books of various genres. The group poses with the 100th book, “Finding Dorothy” and a bottle of wine from the Oz Winery in Wamego, Kansas, where the Wizard of Oz Museum is found. From left is Peggy Francis, Karen Mathes, Sonya Richardson-Thomas, Brenda Maynard, Lu McMillen and Kathy Drew.

LIBERTY — When English philosopher and essayist Francis Bacon penned “Of Studies” almost 400 years ago, little did he know that there are six women in Liberty who believe in his line: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

After all, they have digested 100 books as of late last month. The Liberty Book Club meets 10 months out of the year, taking off one of the summer months and December. They have met once a month since February of 2010.

Each month, the woman who hosts the monthly gathering gets to select the book to read and then opens her home for the discussion and camaraderie.

The group’s 100th book was “Finding Dorothy” by Elizabeth Letts, chosen by Peggy Francis. A fitting choice as it is focused on women and described as semi-biographical as the widow of L. Frank Baum works to protect a young Judy Garland during the filming of “Wizard of Oz.” The book also examines Baum’s wife, Maud, and her life as the pragmatist behind Baum as well as the disciplinarian of their four sons.

“We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, the deaths of parents and the birth of grandchildren,” said book club member Karen Mathes. “Most of us have been friends for more than 30 years when we lived in the Clay Woods area.”

Lu McMillen said the women all have a mutual respect for each other as well as appreciating the similarities and the differences.

“For many of us now, this is the only place we can come together,” Mathes said. “All of us look forward to seeing each other.”

Now, the women are the stage in their lives that they can bond over books and not worry about as much about home schedules. The group has even traveled to Dallas when Kathy Drew, who works for Nebraska Furniture Mart, was transferred there for a short stay. They have also traveled to Paris after reading a book “Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette.”

The books have run all across the literary spectrum from mysteries, history to memoirs and contemporary fiction. Their first book was “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” by Lorna Landvik, a book that mirrors some of the glue that now holds this book club together.

The women all have had a chance to offer up some favorites such as Sonya Richardson-Thomas, who loves Jodi Picoult, the American writer.

“However, I have learned to like a lot of things,” said Richardson-Thomas.

For Brenda Maynard, the book choices have challenged her to read more diverse books.

“We have stayed mostly away from politics, too,” McMillen said. “When we went to Dallas, it was our time to reminisce to remember as many recommendations as we could. It’s always about good laughter, fun and a chance to review the books. We have also helped each other grow.”

Through the 10 years, they have had authors Zoom in for the book club. Other authors have been emailed and shared details with the group.

Even the way the women devour the books is unique. Drew and Mathes read a hard copy while Francis and Maynard tend to read via a Kindle and Richardson-Thomas and McMillen listen to the audio book recording.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at or 389-6630.

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