They agree that they love to read, if not much else

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Book club members happy with their differences 

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Janet Sedicino of Middle Township reads several books at a time.

She is part of a book group that meets the first Thursday of the month at the Cape May Court House Library.

With the group of readers on Sept. 6, Sedicino said she loved the book about a boy struggling to become a man and looking for solace in New York bar.

Others disagreed.

Although they enjoyed parts of J.R. Moehringer's "The Tender Bar," they disliked the memoir as a whole.

But differences in opinion are not a problem at the First Thursday Book Club. The group meets at 7 p.m. at the Court House library and discusses the book assigned for the month.

For the group members, it's part of fostering a love of reading.

"It's safe," said Kathy Tweed of Middle Township, who heads the reading group.

She said members easily share thoughts with one another.

"And we're passionate readers, that's for sure," she said.

Tweed said she never participated in a reading group until she came to First Thursday Book Club in 2004. The club formed in 2001.

During the group’s meeting Sept. 6, Sedicino said she enjoyed the character development of "The Tender Bar."

In his younger days, the author, J.R. Moehringer, turned to a New York bar for guidance. His father left him early in his childhood.

The bar attracted everyone from cops to poets to gamblers. Moehringer looked to people at the bar for help in facing his failures and rejections. Later in life, the bar rejected him.

A well-thought out time, place and character development makes for a good book, Sedicino indicated.

"And I think this book has all of it," she said.

Connie Nortemnan of Lower Township said she fell in love with the words.

Robin Simpson of Middle Township found similar appreciation for the book.

She said she enjoyed a phrase mentioned in the passage: "Of course many bars in Manhasset, like bars everywhere, were nasty places, full of pickled people marinating in regret."

"So you liked pieces of the book?" Sedicino asked.

Yes, Simpson said.

Sedicino said she related to the book with being raised in Newark in North Jersey. Looking at the “The Tender Bar,” she saw her childhood neighborhood.

Simpson said she couldn’t see such a connection to her life in the book.

Sedicino also found a link with baseball in “The Tender Bar.” She remembers her father in the 1920s had the only baseball bat in his neighborhood.

Such memories brought tears to her eyes as she read the book, Sedicino said.

"This is not brilliant literature," Barbara Jedlicka of Sea Isle City said.

On Sept. 6, members veered off topic from the book and talked about other books and even life.

For Jedlicka, the group is more than books. It's about the camaraderie.

That seems to be the case with the other members as well.

The Cape May Court House Library also hosts other reading groups.

The Great Books Reading and Discussion Group formed in the early 1990s. The club is part of an organization with roots dating back to the 1940s in Chicago.

Members meet every two weeks at 10 a.m. Thursdays at the Cape May Court House Library.

“We really into in-depth discussions about it,” said Kate Gibbons of the Cape May County Library.

Gibbons has been involved with the club for five years.

Three members have been part of the club since the beginning.

“I think people really like it,” Gibbons said.

Cape May County Library director Deborah Poillon said other reading clubs at the library formed because of Oprah's Book Club. Oprah Winfrey began featuring books on her TV show in 1996, and since then her club has been suspended twice.

Other adult reading groups at the Cape May County Library include the Great Classic Fiction Book Club, which meets the third Thursday at 4 p.m. Cape May Court House Library, and the Current Fiction Book Club sponsored by the Wildwood Civic Club the first Monday from 2-4 p.m. at the Wildwood Crest Library.

Three reading groups are also offered to young people at the Cape May Court House Library. They are Reading Rumpus, 6-7 p.m. the fourth Wednesday for first- and second-graders; Friends Books Club, 6-7 p.m. third Monday for third- and fourth-graders; and the Tween Book Club, 6-7 p.m. the third Tuesday for fifth- to sixth-graders.

Head children’s librarian Kellie Large said members discuss the book and do an activity, like a craft.

As students grow out of one reading group, she has seen them join another.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” she said.

Poillon said book groups are a “good fit” for the library.

She said among the major goals of the library is to promote literacy.

The Cape May Court House Library is at 30 Mechanic St. and the Wildwood Crest Library is at 6301 Ocean Ave.

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