SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Bookmark Book Club, popularly referred to as Scotch Plains Public Library’s Afternoon Book Club, is celebrating 35 years of monthly meetings.

Book clubs are a very influential factor in the lives of suburban women. In reviewing the histories of these groups there seem to be two variations: most are recent arrivals on the scene, and the remainder start and end in short duration.

Bookmark is the exception. From its beginnings in 1983, it still thrives 35 years later. Very few book groups have lasted this long. It began with the retirement of Lee Symonds, director of the Metuchen Public Library. She wanted to pay back something to the township of Scotch Plains, where she resided. She secured a room and the library prepared a notice on the bulletin board and in the local paper.

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Four people showed up and they agreed to read Excellent Women by Barbara Pym as their first selection. The next session brought out seven people, and the group continued to grow steadily. Word spread throughout the county, and soon Westfield, Fanwood, and Cranford were represented. Thirty-five years later the group now numbers around 12 at each meeting. Many of the original members have retired and moved far away, but new members have consistently taken their places. Founder Lee Symonds moved all the way to Oregon.

The animated conversations that take place every month are a testimonial to the need to discuss literature, and this month’s discussion of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly was no exception.

Like bridge and chess it is a part of the agenda of women of varying interests. They remain an eclectic group – all ages and points of view, united in keeping the voice of literature alive for the next thirty-five years. Their next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm to discuss The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma by Ratika Kapur.

The Scotch Plains Public Library is proud to have hosted Bookmark for the last 35 years. The Scotch Plains Public Library is located at 1927 Bartle Ave., one block from Park Avenue in the center of town..