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For seniors in town book club, e-readers are the way to go

For the past year, a monthly book club for seniors in North Hempstead has fused tradition with new technology.

About 15 seniors participate in the club, organized by the town, where the majority of the members use Amazon Kindles, an e-book reader that allows users to shop, download and read books. Each month's book is sent wirelessly to the club member's e-reader.

The group gathered Monday morning at North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington during the weekly FunDay Monday event for seniors. They met to discuss "My Beloved World," a memoir by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The club was formed a year ago during the FunDay Monday events. It was so successful that the group continued to meet once a month.

"So, all things considered, it was a good book?" club co-leader Joyce Lenard, who is an employee in the town's Department of Community Services, asked the group, which was made up of all women. The women gave a resounding "yes" and nodded their heads.

Since the club was founded a year ago, club members have "eaten their way" through 10 books, Lenard said. Each month the club members enjoy treats inspired by the literature. Since Sotomayor's memoir included references to Puerto Rico, the women sipped nonalcoholic margaritas, and sampled empanadas and oranges.

The club has 18 e-readers that were funded by the Great Neck Social Center and the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, according to club co-leader Gia Montelbano, who also works in the community services department of the town.

Some seniors have enjoyed being able to listen to audio books on the devices, said Kimberly Corcoran-Galante, commissioner of both North Hempstead's departments of community services and services for the aging.

But at least one member of the club prefers to read physical books rather than using an e-reader, she said. "We do have a couple seniors who like it old school," she said.

Five new members are on a waiting list to receive Kindles, Montelbano said.

Rose Villani of Mineola said she never used a Kindle before she joined the club. "I don't think I'm very proficient at it, but I manage," she said.

Dotty Franco of Westbury said she likes being able to read in bed by the light of her e-reader. Joan Ortiz of New Hyde Park said she reads white print on a black background on the Kindle and adjusts the screen's brightness to "save" her eyes.

Lenard said the club has been a success. "It's just been fabulous," she said. "They're all happy."

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