Friday Book Club Turns 75

blankbook_freeimagesThe Friday Book Club of Lakewood, Washington, is one of the longest continuously running book clubs in the United States. This year, the group is commemorating each decade of existence in a year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary.

When the club began in 1941, Lakewood, Washington existed only as an unincorporated part of Pierce County and did not yet have its own library. In the view of its 18 avid founder readers, driving to Tacoma to borrow books wasted resources like gasoline and rubber that the country sorely needed. Instead, they began a circulating book exchange they called the Friday Book Club. From September through June, members meet in one another’s homes to rotate books, have lunch together, and enjoy a program.

The club’s oldest member is 97 and has belonged to the group for 57 of its 75 years. Members’ professions have included pilot, paralegal, teacher, author and chef. Current president Kate van Gelder said: “It has allowed me to meet so many talented women I might never have known otherwise, who share their interests with one another, love books and become special friends.”

Most of this year’s meetings have explored the nostalgia of a period of food, dress, and events in a part of the club’s history. In March, members of the Lakewood Historical Society will present the 20-year history of the city itself. The May meeting, at Van Gelder’s home, will feature a presentation by one of the women pilots who served in World War II.