Museum restarts local interest club with Burnett book

From Staff Reports

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will again host its local interest book club on the second Friday of each month, at 11:30 a.m. at the museum.

This will be the second year the museum has hosted the book club, which gathers to discuss works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry that have some relation to Western North Carolina or the Southern Appalachian region.

Last year was the first time the museum hosted the gatherings, and assistant director Katherine Cutshall, who leads the discussions, was delighted with the interest and turnout.

“I thought maybe four or five folks would be a victory,” she said, “but this has turned into a steady group of at least 15 who all have something to share. It has really delighted me to see how the group has come together and been so warm, welcoming, open to new ideas, and excited to learn more about the place we call home.”

The group is made up of longtime WNC residents and new transplants, all eager to chat about the read of the month. Jill Jones, former director of the museum, is a regular, and a longtime resident of WNC. She enjoys what the book club adds to the museum’s programming.

“In addition to the incredible hiking programs that acquaint people with the outdoor history of the Swannanoa Valley, the book club offers both entertainment and education about the history and culture of the region.”

After taking a break for January, the book club will kick off by discussing “This Was My Valley” by Fred Burnett (1960) on Feb. 9. The book recounts life in the North Fork Valley before it was taken by the city of Asheville and flooded out and used as a water source, creating the Burnett Reservoir that exists today. The book is rare and expensive, so the museum is loaning facsimile copies to those interested in joining the book club.

The museum encourages readers to purchase copies of the March-December reads from local booksellers like Malaprop’s Bookstore where they will receive a 10 percent discount on books on the book club list. Other booksellers such as Black Mountain Books, Downtown Books and News, and Mr. K’s Used Books and Music also tend to have copies of the books.

If you choose to purchase your book online, the museum’s staff suggests using Amazon Smile so that a portion of each purchase will support the museum.

You can RSVP for the book club at, at the museum Facebook page or by calling or emailing Cutshall at 669-9566 or Volunteer@swannanoavalley

The Book Club schedule

Meeting dates and works to be discussed are:

•Feb. 9: “This Was My Valley” (1960), Fred Burnett

•March 9: “Welcome To Our City” (1923), Thomas Wolfe

•April 13: “That Bright Land” (2016), Terry Roberts

•May 11: “Pisgah National Forest: A History” (2014), Marci Spencer

•June 8: “Return to the Innocent Earth” (1994), Wilma Dykeman

•July 13: “Affrilachia” (2000), Frank X. Walker

•Aug. 10: “No One is Coming to Save Us” (2017), Stephanie Powell Watts

•Sept. 14: “The Last Ballad” (2017), Wiley Cash

•Oct: 12: “Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab” (2016), Steve Inskeep

•Nov. 9: “The Road” (1967), John Ehle

•Dec. 14: “Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers” (2000), Joyce Dyer, ed.