This article originally appeared in the Friday Aug. 2, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
One year ago a retired group of four women got together, and The Oldest Settlement Book Club was born.
The Oldest Settlement Book Club, comprised of nearly 20 women now, has been meeting at the Peñitas Public Library (1111 S. Main St.) monthly for one year. It started informally in order to provide retired members of the community with a relaxing and fun group that promotes literature.
The brainchild of former La Joya Independent School District employees Irma Ramirez and Adalia De Luna while they were still working, The Oldest Settlement Book Club was named after the city of Peñitas itself. They held their first anniversary meeting this Tues. July 30, 2019.
“When Irma was working, she and I had talked about a book club,” De Luna said. “But because she was working and I was so busy with all the committees [I was in], we just kind of let it sit there.”
De Luna said the idea simmered for a while, but it kept coming up.
“We kept thinking ‘Peñitas needs this, Peñitas needs to have a book club,’” De Luna said. “We need to promote literature, we need to continue reading.”
Over the last year the number of people who joined the book club has grown, and club members noted that they look forward to attending their meetings, held the last Tues. of every month in the library at 10 a.m. De Luna said that as she has grown older over the years, reading books has kept her going strong.
“One of the things that studies tell you is that reading keeps your brain sharp, reading and being together with other people,” De Luna said. “We thought, why not a book club? And this was a year ago.”
De Luna stressed that there are several people and organizations that have made The Oldest Settlement Book Club a success, including Peñitas Public Library Director Yenni Espinoza, Librarian Myra Rocha, Belinda Garza and William Renner from the Speer Memorial Library in Mission and Reference Librarian Claudia Villarreal Quiroz from the McAllen Public Library.
Since 2018, The Oldest Settlement Book Club began utilizing the McAllen Public Library’s Lit Kit program, which allows book clubs from across the area to check out 16 copies of a book at a time, including discussion questions and author information for six weeks at a time.
De Luna referred to the Lit Kits as making “life so much easier” for The Oldest Settlement Book Club.
So far the club members have read “All the Lights We Cannot See,” “The Scent of Rain and Lightning” and “Necessary Lies.” Currently they are in the midst of, “The Light Between Oceans,” and De Luna said that meetings and discussions about the books have proven to sometimes be intense and emotional, with strong opinions held by all members of the club.
“I’ve been so glad to see so many of us here,” De Luna said. “It is a pleasure.”
The guidelines to join The Oldest Settlement Book Club include that members must have a valid library card, preferably be retired because of meeting times, love to read and be willing to participate in a discussion of the book the group is reading and be ready to return the books once they are complete.
During the book club meeting held this week, members were gifted with three books (“I Am Malala,” “The Tequila Worm” and “The Giver”), pens, bookmarks and a Peñitas Public Library lanyard. Each book club member was spoken highly of by De Luna and Ramirez.
“This is in appreciation for what you do for us,” De Luna said to the group of women. “This is for your friendship, your participation and support, because we love you and you’re part of our team.”
Anyone interested in joining The Oldest Settlement Book Club at the Peñitas Public Library can call Adalia De Luna at (956) 240-0015.