I’ve been participating in the Lovin’ on Buffalo Book Club since it began in early 2013. As the name suggests, all of the books we read are about Buffalo, set in Buffalo, and/or written by Buffalo authors.
The group was founded and continues to be organized by Krystal, a Buffalo native who is involved in all sorts of Buffalo-boosting activities. She volunteers in the community, she leads tour groups — in other words, she’s the sort of person a Buffalover like myself would seek out. In person, she comes across exactly as I pictured her.
By the end of the year, the group will have read six books. This is our list so far:
#1: City of Light by Lauren Belfer
#2: Buffalo Memories: Gone But Not Forgotten by George Kunz
#3: Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames
#4: The Long Walk by Brian Castner
#5: Scribblin’ for a Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo by Thomas J. Reigstad
I was a virtual participant for the first three books while living in DC, but I moved to Buffalo in time to join the fourth meeting. Not only was I finally able to meet my fellow group members, Krystal had arranged for Brian Castner — the author of the book we’d just read who happens to live in the area — to join us!
I was excited about this development because I very much enjoyed Brian’s book. While it’s considered heavy reading (the book focuses on Brian’s feelings of what he calls “the Crazy” after he returns home from dismantling bombs in Iraq), I couldn’t put it down and read it in just a few days. It even joined the ranks of books I’ve read sections of out loud to Paul — passages so moving that I just have to share them with someone else.
The meeting was a ton of fun. Brian answered all sorts of questions (both serious and funny) and signed copies of his book for those who had brought theirs along. (I kicked myself for not purchasing a book in advance; I read it originally on my Kindle.) Bryana from Enjoy Buffalo got him to sign her library book! We figured the Buffalo library wouldn’t mind having an author’s signature for other patrons to come across.
The group met in a back room at Firefly, a cupcake shop in the Elmwood Village, and I got a ride to the meeting with Angela from Buffalo Streets. Angela is lovely and gregarious and has offered to give me a walking tour of downtown Buffalo and also the Hotel Lafayette where she lives. How did I get so lucky that I found these people before I even moved to town?
Here’s a photo of the group. Brian is the unsmiling guy in the center (I swear he was nice in person!) wearing a green button-down; my blond head is in the very back (behind Brian); Krystal is kneeling in the front row wearing a blue dress.