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Finding Community In Books with “Kestrel Reads” Group

open books laying in grass

The written word has the power to inform but also to reach the heart. Research shows that fiction readers, by immersing themselves in another person’s perspective, tend to be more compassionate. Yet, reading is a solitary pleasure.

That’s where book clubs like “Kestrel Reads” come in. Unpacking a good book by sharing ideas with others deepens and enriches the story or content, generating insights that you can bring into other aspects of your life.

In fall 2022, with the expert help of volunteer Cheri LeBlond, Kestrel Reads discussion group launched with a focus on books that explore nature and our relationship to the land. A former bookstore owner from Kansas City, Cheri has moderated book clubs for almost 10 years. She moved to Amherst at the start of the pandemic and took solace in the many trails around the area. “I wanted to give back to an organization that preserved all that beauty. Happily, my book club experience fit in with Kestrel’s vision of exploring the natural world through the arts,” she said. “I found my community and Kestrel Reads found its moderator.”

Cheri creates book clubs that provide a common, respectful space to listen and be heard, as well as to disagree amiably. “I love when you walk into a discussion with one impression of a book and leave with another—or leave completely validated. What I enjoy most about Kestrel Reads is the expertise and knowledge of participants in the room. I can learn as much from my fellow readers as I did from the book.”

What I enjoy most about Kestrel Reads is the expertise and knowledge of participants in the room. I can learn as much from my fellow readers as I did from the book.”

Since Kestrel Reads’ quarterly program began, participants have explored nonfiction books including Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, and Pastoral Song: A Farmers Journey by James Rebanks. They also tackled the sweeping novel The Overstory by Richard Powers as well as his follow-up novel, Bewilderment.

Check our Events page for the next book we’ll be reading and register to join us for a great conversation!

Kestrel Reads Book List

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