The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 16, 2013

Captive readers warm to tomes

Book club run for inmates at Snyder County jail

SELINSGROVE — Most of the women in orange jumpsuits listened quietly as Raven Rudnitsky and Marsha Lemons led the book club discussion on Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s “The Language of Flowers,” but by the end of the meeting all of them eagerly accepted the next book on the list, “A Painted House,” by John Grisham.

“When do you think you’ll be back?” an inmate asked Rudnitsky and Lemons as they prepared to leave the Snyder County jail Wednesday following the hour-long meeting in the dorm-style cell.

They assured the women they’ll return in July and one day every month after that to discuss a variety of books.

The book club was started by Anne Gates who was inspired by World Book Night USA, a nonprofit organization that provides free books to volunteers who turn them over to non-readers or people who don’t have access to books in their communities.

As she mulled who to give the 20 books she received from the organization, Gates recalled that Keri Albright, the CEO and president of the Greater Susquehanna United Way, started a book club three years ago in Northumberland County Prison which continues to flourish today.

Recruiting Rudnitsky, Lemons, Janie Coyne and Ricki Stringfellow, Gates approached Snyder County Warden Ruth Rush two months ago with the idea of offering women inmates a chance to take part in the book club.

“The warden was just very welcoming and excited about the idea that someone would come in and offer something,” Gates said.

Rush s encourages the community to get involved and was especially receptive to the idea of a book club that teaches life lessons inmates can relate to.

She reviews all the book titles — no “Fifty Shades of Grey” allowed — and even read the club’s first book, “The Language of Flowers,” so she could discuss it with the women held at the jail.

All but one of the 14 inmates at the jail Wednesday participated in the book club discussion Wednesday that touched on a variety of themes in Diffenbaugh’s novel of redemption, ranging from forgiveness, family and second chances.

“They’re really getting into this,” Rush said as a few inmates warmed to the topic and spoke about how the book affected them.

“I was emotional at the end. I had tears running down my face,” said Christina Bush, who plans to share the book with her teenage daughter.

Looking ahead to when she’s released from jail, Bush wondered how she could continue sharing her love of books with others in her community.

“We can find you a book club,” Rudnitsky said. “Or you can start one yourself.”

Her eyes lighting up at the prospect, Bush smiled and said, “It’s something I can look forward to and something I can do with my daughter.”

That exchange is what the book club volunteers had hoped for.

Gates had never been inside the county jail before she pitched the program and was dismayed to find some inmates languishing.

“One of the inmates told us she had been in jail for seven months and all she did was lay on her bed. She said (the book club) reminded her of her love of reading,” Gates said. “Even if we don’t get beyond that point, it’s been a success.”

Next month, the book club will be reading Susquehanna University professor Tom Bailey’s novel, “The Grace That Keeps This World.” Gates said Bailey will join the women in August when they discuss the book which is scheduled to be made into a movie starring Glenn Close and James Franco.

Text Only
  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor: Rental ban for drug dealers a success

    SUNBURY — A controversial landlord-tenant ordinance passed by the City Council in 2012 has become one of Sunbury’s “better success stories,” Mayor David Persing said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mom cited for allegedly leaving baby in car for 12 minutes

    LEWISBURG — A summary citation carrying a maximum fine of $127.50 was filed Tuesday against a Lewisburg woman accused of leaving her 10-month-old baby unattended for 12 minutes in a car in Union County on July 21.

    July 29, 2014

  • Line Mountain district, teachers $1.2M apart in contract talks

    MANDATA — Separate proposals from the Line Mountain School District and its teachers union are $1.2 million apart and not getting any closer, according to Benjamin L. Pratt, the district’s labor counsel at the CGA Law Firm.

    July 29, 2014

  • Road work: Expect traffic delays on Route 54 near Danville

    RIVERSIDE — Motorists in the Danville-Riverside area are advised that a 2.2-mile micro-surfacing project on Route 54 from Riverside borough to Boyd Station in Northumberland County will begin this afternoon.

    July 29, 2014

  • Blood trail leads to stabbing suspect in Montour County

    DANVILLE — Borough police followed a trail of blood along a sidewalk, up a staircase and down a hallway that led to a moaning woman who they say knifed another woman Sunday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • Spencer_Maria1.jpg Maria Spencer charged with murdering her ex-husband

    SELINSGROVE — On Monday, a little more than two years after Frank Spencer was executed outside his Columbia County home, his former wife and her father were charged in his murder and the attempted homicide of Spencer’s girlfriend.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opponents, supporters to discuss clean air rules

    DENVER — Hundreds of people are expected to attend public hearings this week in a handful of cities across the U.S. to tell federal regulators what they think of proposed rules to cut pollution from power plants.

    July 29, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.