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San Diego Book Club: The Risteners

KPBS and the San Diego Public Library’s One Book, One San Diego project is connecting with the community by highlighting a local book club each month. Interested book clubs may complete an application to be featured.

Our first featured book club not only enjoys a good read, but a good listen, a “risten” if you will. The San Diego Risteners are central San Diego’s premiere audio book club. The group has “discovered a greater fondness for enhancing [their] listening skills” by checking out the audio versions of the books they choose each month, says member Patricia Hogan. An excellent read or "risten" with interesting people is what makes this book club unique.

The Risteners also support local restaurants by meeting monthly at various venues around central San Diego that are chosen to fit the theme of the book. For example, when the group read “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides, which delves into the Greek heritage of an intersex man, the club met at Zorba’s Greek Restaurant in Chula Vista.

Over scheduled dinners, members discuss all facets of the book, including the narrator of the audio tape. Does the narrator’s tone or inflections add or detract from the storyline? Oftentimes narrators will use special voices or other tricks of the trade to help the listener visualize the story. Audio books allow the listener to hear words written and spoken by professionals, letting them focus on the art of speaking, the cadence of language, and the beauty of clear pronunciation.

Over 90% of the San Diego Risteners’ book choices are in audio format. Audio books provide a multi-sensory alternative to the page-turning read most are accustomed to, and can be found at almost all bookstores and public libraries. This is an option well worth considering since listening skills are noted as a key foundation of productivity by The United States Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The Risteners end each meeting by deciding on their group’s next “risten,” either by a member’s suggestion or by referring to their reading list.

If you’re interested in joining, check out the San Diego Risteners on

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