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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Senior book club takes on novels old and new

By Andy Gross
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Anna Goldenberg, 89, reads a few Russian phrases from the book ‘The History of Love’ by Nicole Krauss, at the RiverWalk book club on Saturday.

On an unseasonably warm Saturday, the 23 members of RiverWalk book club reached a consensus on their most recent reading adventure, The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss.

“Did anyone like this book?” asked book club organizer Betty Joblove, who at 84 is perhaps the youngest member of the club.

Not one hand went up in favor of the book at the most recent gathering, on Dec. 21.

“It was much too difficult to follow, too complicated,” said Anna Goldberg, herself the author of a Holocaust memoir titled Whispers in the Darkness.

“I didn’t like the book at all,” said Ms. Joblove, who produced a published review dismissing the novel as “sentimental Jewish magical realism.”

“I blame the editor,” said Shirley Taub. “I suppose they are always looking for something unusual.”

Millicent Aranoff said, “I thought parts of it were humorous,” an opinion that drew disagreement from Ms. Joblove, who came armed for the discussion with reviews, articles and pertinent information.

These comments were just part of the spirited debate that took place at the book club, which meets every five weeks.

RiverWalk, which offers panoramic views of the Hudson River, is part of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale located at 261st Street and Palisades Ave. Its residents live independently in their own apartments.

Ms. Joblove, who assumed leadership of the group more than two years ago, explained that previously, book club members used to purchase their books. 

However, Ms. Joblove is a strong believer in the New York Public Library system and works closely with the Riverdale branch on 256th Street and Mosholu Avenue to arrange loans of enough books for the club in advance. She picks up and returns the books herself.

“They work with me,” said Ms. Joblove.

Ms. Joblove said she chooses books based upon word of mouth, book reviews and recommendations. Whenever possible, she orders large print or books on tape for club members with visual difficulties. When a book, such as The Great Gatsby, is made into a movie, Ms. Joblove will also order a copy for viewing and discussion.

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