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At last, the perfect book club

LIKE most West Virginians, I am excited to celebrate the 150th birthday of my state.

Also, I like to say the word "sesquicentennial."

It rolls off the tongue.

Just how many Scrabble points is that word worth?

My celebration of my state's milestone is taking shape so far mainly through reading. I'm participating in the West Virginia Reads 150 project.

Sponsored by the West Virginia Library Commission, the effort is encouraging West Virginians, individually or in teams, to read 150 books in any format.

I had read about the effort but hadn't really planned to take part until I saw a group taking shape among a few West Virginians on the online social networking service Twitter.

I volunteered to join up and became a member of the 'TwitLits," which is not a good name for a biker gang but fine enough for a book consumption effort.

It quickly became clear this was my kind of group.

A book club has always required a level of commitment I can't seem to muster. I don't want a club telling me what book to read. I like to make my own choices. And although I might like to get together and talk about the book, I'm not sure I'd actually make it on a regular basis.

At last, here's a book club I can get behind. Just read a book, make a note of it and move on to another.

Plus, although I have been a longtime reading enthusiast, there was a literary dry period after my kids were born.

In those years, my reading efforts sagged because there was so much else to do.

It's hard to take on Anna Karenina when, at any moment, someone developing the skill of walking might take a header down the stairs. Moby Dick can wait until some decade when you're not sleep deprived.

Lately I've been on the upswing.

My kids aren't so little any more. And I have embraced the e-reader.

A Kindle — or the e-reader of your choosing — means material is always available and downloadable at the touch of a button (although you have to watch this a bit if you are an impulse buyer).

The click, click, click of turning "pages" is a little reward. I think of myself as a hamster seeking word pellets.

And even the heaviest of books all weigh the same on an e-reader. No lengthy tome is intimidating.

And, of all things, the least literate resident of my home, the dog, encourages reading. He likes to just hang out on the couch in the evenings, and so I hang out with him — usually with something to read. Meanwhile, doggie snores.

I'm performing fairly well with my reading group. I'm picking fairly short books and knocking them out relatively quickly.

But you have to watch out. Because West Virginia Reads 150 is more competitive than you might think.

Take the team associated with the Kanawha County Library, for example. Those guys are the Miami Heat of reading books.

The West Virginia Reads 150 initiative is a good incentive to read and keep reading. And I have a lot more on my pile.

But it occurs to me that maybe I should add some books by West Virginia authors to my list.

Any recommendations?

Brad McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor. Contact him at 304-348-1704 or bradmc@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Brad

McElhinny.


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