Duluth book club history stretches 23 years

Click on the Duluth History logo to find more history on the hill. 194 different novels over the past 23 years, Patti Swanson and her book club are looking to hit number 200.

“It’s amazing how many books we have read together. We’ve always had an idea but until today, we had never really actually counted,” Swanson said.

At 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, members of the club begin to gather outside of the Swanson household. The aroma of brewing coffee meets you at the door and the smell of baked goods in the oven follows; a tradition that has been going strong throughout the club’s 23-year history. As the group takes out their books and starts their weekly routine, the history of the club begins to surface.

Starting back in 1989, Swanson and four of her friends decided to put together a book club, which met weekly every Sunday afternoon. Their initial goal was to use this club to remain close and get a chance to see each other at least once a week, but it would turn out to be so much more than that.

“I don’t know what I would do without this group. It started out as just a fun hobby, but really, it turned out to be the foundation of our friendships, and for Patti and I, our marriage,” Charlie Swanson said.

Patti and Charlie, hosts of the book club, have been married for 54 years, with just under half of those years spent reading and sharing together in this club.

Betty Schmitt, another member of the club, could recall the first book that the group read.


“The Color Purple. I distinctly remember how popular the book was at the time, and we all had been wanting to read it,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt was the bridesmaid at Patti and Charlie’s wedding, and were close friends before the book club even started. Schmidt, who previously resided in Proctor, moved into Duluth three years ago after her husband passed away.

“These are my best friends, and having this book club has given me a hobby to enjoy through these retirement years. Without it, coping with Daniel’s death would have been much more difficult,” Schmidt said.

The Swansons plan to maintain the club for many years to come, and will keep reading a substantial part of their lives.

“Not only do I learn through reading, I learn through the relationships I have maintained, largely due to this club,” Patti Swanson said.

Through the maintenance of weekly reading and gathering, the book club has learned much more than what is written on paper. Life lessons and stable relationships can be found in the most unlikely places.





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