‘Off the Shelf’ book club celebrates 20 years of books and friendships

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 2:30 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A good book can transport you to anywhere in the world.

One group of friends says the best thing about a book – even one they wouldn’t consider a good book – is how it connects them with other women.

They are members of the “Off the Shelf” book club.

Meme May is an avid reader.

“I read 52 books a year,” she said.

That’s a book a week. For the past 10 years, she’s been discussing many of those books with these ladies. They are the members of “Off the Shelf” Book Club. For the past 20 years, they’ve been gathering once a month to talk about books. Pam Vukelic and Beth Demke have been members since the beginning.

“I am one of the originals,” said Demke.

“I think it’s worked out,” Vukelic added.

Perhaps the reason for this book club’s longevity has to do with the club’s rules.

“They’re not always followed. They are loose rules,” laughed Vueklic.

The rules: you can’t recommend a book you haven’t read. And you can’t invite someone to join the club.

“That person has come to a meeting and check us out. And then we also kind of check that person out and then we would decide, yeah, we should invite her to join,” Vukelic explained.

It’s how May came to join this club a decade ago.

“My eyes just filled with tears. Because I was just so excited to be asked to be in a book club,” May recalled.

This book club is about the books, and at the same time, it’s about something much bigger than the books.

“The books are central. I mean, we certainly read the books and we enjoy those. But the friendship is really the key,” Demke explained.

As they close the book on 20 years, they’re also looking forward to the next chapter, and the next book, because they know, that book will bring them together once again.

The “Off the Shelf” book club has done many service projects over the years, most of them involving books. Right now, they’re collecting books to donate to the Dream Center.

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