Michael Biel is an assistant professor at California State University at Northridge CSUN where he teaches Neurogenic Disorders of Cognition and Language. I was fortunate to have him as a professor when I was a graduate student at CSUN (I graduated with my Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences, Speech Language Pathology in 2006). He taught one of my favorite courses on Aphasia. Francie Schwarz is a Public Service Librarian at the Echo Park Branch Library who wrote a grant to fund the book club. Together, they make a great team.
I was fortunate to join their table this week and meet their engaging members. The group had just finished reading Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, a new translation by Susan Bernofsky.
Aphasia is an impairment of language due to brain damage, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, but does not affect intelligence. People with aphasia tend to have trouble processing language, affecting one’s ability to speak, write and understand language. This can include written and verbal language. There are different types of aphasia, ranging from mild to severe.
Mike and Francie have been facilitating this group for the past four years. To be part of a group that takes turns and listens, and engages in sharing books – made me extremely happy for the brief time I joined them. Francie says, “it wouldn’t be such a great group without our dedicated members. These are some of the most motivated readers that I have ever encountered, and because of that we often have really great discussions.” They motivated me to read more too. . . and join a book club (on a day I’m not usually at work)!
There are outstanding resources available at local public libraries, such as this Aphasia Book Club, thanks to dedicated people like Francie and Mike. The work behind this group must take enormous amounts of time to prepare. I do hope more L.A. residents take advantage of book clubs like this.
Now if only book clubs like this one could get more permanent funding. . .