Mildred McClenny first tried joining a gardening club when she was a newlywed in Lake Highlands decades ago. But there was one problem: she didn’t have a garden.
McClenny attended one meeting of the garden club, hoping to pass a florists’ bouquet off as her own. But after the meeting she ended up crying at home. A floral arrangement critic had thrown her purchased bouquet in the trash saying the stems had been cut too short.
“I want a club where I don’t do anything,” McClenny remembered thinking back then. This line was met with laughter from a luncheon audience: members of the Lake Highlands Book Review Club.
This year marks the book review club’s 60th anniversary. McClenny, who went on to serve three terms as its president, was one of the club’s founding members. She is one of only three founding members still living.
At a celebratory luncheon Wednesday, she reflected on the club’s history.
As a member of the Lake Highlands United Methodist Church, McClenny used her connections there to call around and gather up a group of women interested in the club. She called and called for days and eventually wound up with a list of 75 women.
Once word spread about the club, the number of members soon expanded to 100 and then 125. At that point, the founders put a cap on the number of members allowed in the club.
For 60 years, club members have met once a month to hear a variety of book reviewers speak on several topics. Speakers present summaries or reviews of certain books, which the members don’t have to read. According to the Dallas Professional Book Reviewers Association, book review clubs are supposed to “entertain and inform.”
Wednesday’s speaker was Elaine Liner of Lake Highlands, an author, performer, knitter and painter. Liner performed her show “Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love” for the club. The tale combines Liner’s personal life, literature and her passion for knitting to tell a tale of “unraveled relationships,” her website reads.
McClenny said throughout the club’s lifespan, its members have heard from the best book reviewers.
“We feel we are still blessed and very fortunate to have the reviewers we have,” McClenny said.
The book review club has experienced its fair share of changes. The meeting place, for one, has changed several times: the club has used the Methodist church, the Casa Linda neighborhood, North Lake, and recreation centers.
Now, the club isn’t limited to females only. Some husbands join their wives whom they drive to the meetings.
The Lake Highlands Book Review Club meets every third Wednesday of the month between September and May at 9:30 a.m. at Highlands Christian Church at 9949 McCree Road in Dallas.
Membership fees are $35 a year. For more information, call Melinda O’Neal at 214-208-8960.