becky turner

it’s rotary the

word over!

Hello to all you Rotary Readers!

Thank you to all of you who have got in touch and sent messages of support saying ​that you think the book club is a great idea and a very warm welcome to those who ​have never been in a book club before.

Our first book was ‘The Day The World Came To Town’ by Jim Defede, a non-​fiction book which describes how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland came ​together to help the thousands of people stranded in their town when US ​airspace was closed on 9/11.

This book highlights the fact that there’s so much that goes on that we will ​probably never know about – we all remember where we were when we heard of ​the attacks of 9/11 and saw the TV footage, but few of us will have thought of ​what happened to the aircraft that were mid-flight at the time.

One of our readers was evacuated from Canary Wharf on the day, and his ​colleagues were stranded in the US for 3 weeks. Others of our readers have been ​to Gander in the past, with one spending 24 hours in Gander airport in the 1970s ​due to a flight delay, after having spent 2 months as a medical student in ​Newfoundland, where they experienced great kindness and generosity of spirit ​from the locals. One of our members had also flown into Gander 18 times when ​it was a busy international airport.

Many of you hadn’t heard of the book before, so we’ve already hit on one of the ​major benefits of being a member of a book club! The words “feel good”, ​“heartwarming”, “fascinating”, “riveting”, “brilliant”, “sad”, “inspiring” and “easy to ​read” were used, and one member’s family read it too!

Some found that it was a little difficult to keep track of the number of characters ​in the book, and the suggestion was made that it would have been helpful to ​have an appendix with the list of flights and their destinations - that would have ​been an interesting read in itself. It was also felt that it finished rather abruptly ​with the flights leaving, but that’s life – the airlines were focused on getting their ​planes in the air again and probably had no concept of the huge relief effort in ​the town.

“This book really highlights the ​importance of service organisations like ​Rotary.”

I particularly like the observation that “the book shows just how many people ​and places became connected as a result of 9/11” – the experience of being ​diverted to Gander was truly a “sliding doors” moment for some of the ​passengers. The 20th anniversary edition revisits some of them and the ​afterword is an interesting read. Many kept in touch with those they met in ​Gander and formed lasting friendships.

I would challenge anyone not to be deeply moved by the story upon story of love ​and kindness. Gander had a relatively high level of unemployment and social ​issues like alcohol and drug abuse, just like many other places, and in financial ​terms the residents were not well off.

That didn’t stop them opening their homes, giving whatever they had and ​spending all their time looking after the plane passengers – they did it straight ​away and without question, all for complete strangers.

The level of organisation demonstrated was incredibly impressive too – there ​was excellent planning right from the word go; despite originally being told the ​planes would only be grounded for a few hours and that all passengers would ​have to remain on board, the mayor and those in charge of the airport ​demonstrated extraordinary foresight and put detailed and effective plans in ​place.

This book really highlights the importance of service organisations like Rotary. ​Interestingly, Rotary gets a mention in the musical ‘Come From Away’ but not in ​the book, but the contributions of the Lions are frequently talked of in the book.

I wondered whether there were any passengers who made a nuisance of ​themselves, although on reflection I’d rather read the positive stories anyway!

It also made me smile that a lot of people sought out the nearest pub as a ​refuge. Some of our readers felt that the way the book was written in quite a ​journalistic fashion, but given that the author is a journalist and this is a non-​fiction book, that’s not entirely surprising. It affected the scores a little, but the ​stories themselves shine with hope and pure goodness. Your scores ranged from ​8 to 9, with an average of 8.3.

Moving on, our second book, ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex, is a novel ​based on a true story. Please send me your views on it – do tell me all about what ​you like and don’t like by May 15, in time for me to sum it all up for the July ​magazine.

Drum roll please - the result of the vote for our third book is The Secret History ​by Donna Tartt!

Please vote between the following candidates for our fourth book:

  • The Perfect Golden Circle – Benjamin Myers
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky – Mark Sullivan

I’d like to thank our friends at Rotary Radio for our first book club podcast and ​advert. I’m happy to speak to clubs via Zoom about the book club - do get in ​touch if that’s of interest. Email me at:

Please keep the recommendations coming for future books for us to read.

Rotary the word over – enjoy!

Next Arrow Button
Next Arrow Button


Simple Facebook Icon
round icon
round icon
In Typography Outline
Simple Instagram Icon
Simple Youtube Icon

© 2024 Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland