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  • Mariana Vaca

Novel Idea: Local Duo Lead Discussions on Works of Fiction

By Mariana Vaca

Monthly subscriptions are an increasingly popular phenomenon that cater to individual interests from sparkly cosmetics to fancy wines. One of the unique monthly subscriptions offered in Lake Forest is the literary series Talking Books with Alice & Ann.

Alice Moody and Ann Walters send books to subscribers every other month and lead online discussions for these selections. The women select books designed to provoke conversations. So far, they have led discussions for diverse novels and genres like The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession.

Alice Moody (left) and Ann Walters hope to spread the power of books to connect people. Walters – who used to work at Lake Forest Book Store -- and writing coach and Lake Forest resident Moody spend hours preparing for each talk to the community by researching the author, reading reviews and forming links to other literary works. They hope to spread the power of books to connect people and to learn about humanity.

Moody recalls her appetite for books as a young girl when she devoured the stories of Pippi Longstocking and Judy Blume. In a community of book discussions, books show that there is a collective wonder about human stories that begin in childhood and never die.

Despite this collective experience, all individuals have different experiences that make book discussions rich and eye-opening for all. On the Facebook page for Talking Books with Alice & Ann, Barbara Frank writes, “Insightful and informative discussion. Looking forward to next month -- can't wait to get the book.” Longtime subscriber Kathryn Hartrick raves that the discussion for This is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home by Lauren Sandler was “excellent as always. I have so enjoyed and appreciated the variety of books you offer. I can’t wait to receive the next book in the mail.” As a previous high school English teacher, Moody stressed that she learned about the value of “respecting a group’s opinions and thoughts and allowing all voices to be heard.” In her current job, Moody has been able to gain perspectives from adults of all ages. Walters encouraged book discussions for individuals to learn about people and each other’s perspectives.

Talking Books with Alice & Ann provides a service for the community that emphasizes the beauty of stories. After all, as celebrated author George Saunders' notes, “Fiction is a kind of compassion-generating machine that saves us from sloth. Is life kind or cruel? Yes, literature answers. Are people good or bad? You bet, says Literature. But unlike other systems of knowing, Literature declines to eradicate one truth in favor of another."

The duo can be contacted through their website or e-mail to receive more information on the literary subscription. Follow them on Instagram @TalkingBooksWithAliceandAnn.


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