6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com 831 A dozen people who meet every Monday at Palenke Arts’ Teen Arts Center in Seaside sit in a circle to discuss a chapter from a book while munching on snacks they bring for the occasion. It is el club de libros en español, or the Spanish book club, that got its start at Palenke Arts. It began organically when Juan Sánchez, Palenke Arts’ executive director, was looking for ways to get parents engaged while they were waiting for their kids in art, music or folklórico classes. By word of mouth, and asking parents about what books they wanted to read, the Spanish book club formed about three years ago. Sánchez ran the club for a while before Jocelyne Reséndiz Nieto, Palenke Arts’ club organizer and an avid book reader, took it over. For Reséndiz Nieto, the club is a treat. She picks up the books the club will be reading, which are by different authors in Latin America, the United States and Spain including big names like Isabel Allende and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Topics touch on immigration, mental health, parenthood, magic realism, cultural differences between parents and their children, and more. “What I’ve been trying to do now is have stories that our families can either relate to, or have been interested in learning about,” Reséndiz Nieto says. When club members start a book, they read the first few pages as a group; after that, they read either 30 pages or a chapter (whichever is shorter) and talk about it. Readers share what they think about the story and the memories it brings them, like the hot cocoa they enjoyed as a kid with their grandma, or their own immigration journey. “I tried to build a lot of trust within everyone who is in a book club, to make sure that they know it’s a safe space where they’re allowed to express their feelings, which I know is very hard for most of the older generation,” Reséndiz Nieto says. “It’s understanding the book better, or just talking about how our own experiences connect to the book.” Reséndiz Nieto reads about 30 books every year, and she’s sharing her interests with the community and her mother as well, who is also a member of the club. Reséndiz Nieto says the book club has brought them closer. “It’s making me see my mom as her own person,” Reséndiz Nieto notes. Cinthia Corres Luna has been attending the club since it started. The club has become a family outing—several family members, including her mother Socorro Corres, her husband Alfonso Martinez and her son Diego Martinez Corres, 13, who is the youngest in the group, show up every Monday. One book that impressed her was Solito by Javier Zamora, a memoir that narrates the immigration experience of an 8-year-old Salvadoran boy and his journey crossing borders to arrive in the United States. “It made me cry a lot. It transports me to the past,” Corres Luna says, adding she imagines her father when he crossed the border. The club is entirely run in Spanish and all members are proficient in Spanish. The club provides the books for free, and once they are done with them, they become part of Palenke Arts’ library. Reséndiz Nieto says when people come to the club, they don’t face communication barriers. “They’re able to come to a place where they’re not expected to have someone to translate [for them]. They’re not expected to learn another language, just to enjoy reading,” she says. This year, members of the club have read seven books so far including Yo No Soy Tu Perfecta Hija Mexicana - I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez and Solito. Rebeca Aguirre says going to the club is part of her everyday life. She likes meeting new people and having space to express herself. “It’s like a family,” Aguirre adds. Corres Luna and Aguirre both say they like reading because they learn new vocabulary, information about other countries and more. “It transports you to different worlds,” Corres Luna says. Spanish book club meets 6:30-7:30pm Mondays at the Teen Arts Center, 530 Elm Ave., Seaside. 899-9909, palenkearts.com. Literal Connection A Spanish book club in Seaside immerses people into different stories while bringing families together. By Celia Jiménez Book club members meet every Monday at Palenke Arts’ Teen Arts Center in Seaside. The club is run entirely in Spanish, with members discussing books written by authors in Latin America, Spain and the United States, among other places. “It transports you to different worlds.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE DANIEL DREIFUSS Summ er Reading iss ue LET' S CELEBRATE! 2024 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce VOTE NOW! BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2024 Celebrating Excellence in the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Business Community! Thursday, July 18, 2024 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM Monterey Conference Center