The Sunday Magazine

A book club for two, still going after 37 years — on the phone

Two friends. Two cities. With their very own read-aloud book club. A little War and Peace down the line? Alisa Siegel's documentary is called "Telephone Books."
Sara Haddow (left) and Amy Cserni (right) have been reading entire books out loud together for 37 years. (Provided by Amy Cserni)

Originally published on January 6, 2017.

"Telephone Books" was produced by Alisa Siegel. It first aired in January, 2017. We are happy to report that the Telephone Book Club for two is still up and running.

Over the last three years, Sara Haddow and Amy Cserni have read all seven books of Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles to each other. And the full Harry Potter series. Treasure Island. Jekyll and Hyde. Robinson Crusoe. And Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby and Our Mutual Friend.

They then turned their attention to classic mysteries and crime novels. Agatha Christie. Wilkie Collins. Rex Stout. And the lost classics of E. R. Punshon.

They just finished a seven-novel collection by Annie Haynes.

Now Sara and Amy are reading in an entirely different world: the time of the virus, a time when so many people are isolated, alone, and yearning for connection and joy.

Original story runs below.

They met on the first day of a Grade 12 ancient history class at Brantford Collegiate.

Two old souls but a very odd pair.

Amy Cserni, a quiet 15-year-old, tried to make herself invisible in the back row. Which was hard to do when Sara Haddow, a short, brazen 26 year-old mother and former high school dropout, sat down at the desk in front of her.

Despite very different lives and an 11-year age gap, the two became almost inseparable  and began to do something that would come to define their friendship.

They began to read aloud to each other. Entire books.

Over the course of their 37-year friendship, Amy and Sara have read an astonishing list of books together. War and Peace. Middlemarch. Ulysses.

When they both lived in the same city, getting together for their read-aloud-book-club was straightforward. It became more challenging when Amy moved to Ottawa, but they were determined to continue. Which they have — on the phone. 

Their latest?  Anthony Trollope's 1857 novel, Barchester Towers.

Here's Alisa Siegel's documentary, "Telephone Books."

Click the button above to hear the documentary. 




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