EAST FALLS NOW ARTICLE: So many books, so little time

Pam’s Viewpoint
East Falls Now
November 1, 2019 

So many books, so little time 

In January of this year I made the decision to start a book club in the 194th Legislative District. 

My primary reason was to broaden the various ways I dialogue with constituents.  The thought was to select books that could provoke thoughtful conversation about state policy. 

We are now three books into this new, additional way of communicating and those who have attended have shared invaluable insight. We have all met new neighbors and we have had tremendous discussions about policy voids and the need for policy enhancements during our quarterly gatherings. 

We believe we are the only state representative led book club in the commonwealth. 

Our first book was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a memoir about a young man’s family’s journey from the hills of Kentucky to Ohio.  Our book club discussion included the topics of breaking the cycle of poverty, the insularity of culture because we are most comfortable with what we are most familiar, and the need to understand that even with a living wage job, citizens often make bad decisions about how to live their life and these decisions can have an impact on future generations of the same family. 

In June we read Educated by Tara Westover.  The book certainly made me think about the role of government at all levels, pertaining to child welfare, the rules by which we educate our children, and to what degree nature versus nurture plays out in our lives.   

More recently we read Kids for Cash by William Ecenbarger; this was a stomach-churning tale of the abuses that persisted for several years in the Common Pleas Court system in Luzerne County in Pennsylvania.  Abuses that allowed two judges to accept millions of dollars in kickbacks for detaining/incarcerating children with little to no just cause.   

Of interest is the fact that the story line for all three books is recent.  We were not reading about events that took place decades ago.  These stories unfolded in the more recent past – in the last 10 to 25 years. 

I particularly enjoy hearing the comments from everyone gathering for the book clubs.  The backgrounds of the folks joining me include educators from elementary through post-secondary, social workers, lawyers, psychologists, business owners, librarians, retirees, and many others from a variety of ‘walks of life’.  It is this diversity of people that indeed makes the discussion lively and thought provoking. 

We meet quarterly and our next gathering will be in January.  We will announce our next book in early December and am taking suggestions through the month of November.  

We are limited to twenty participants each time and once the next book and date is announced, if interested, you can call the office at 215-482-8726 or email me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net to sign up.  “Members” must sign up each time on a first come first serve basis. We have a process in place to accommodate all interested as fairly as possible, while trying to ensure that folks on previous waiting lists and any new folks who are interested are accommodated.