Kill Your TV may resemble a typical book club, but it has a most unique element: a member who documents each monthly outing in comic book form.
Artist Peter Pereira worked at Logos Book Store, where the club meets, from 2007 to 2010, and has been attending the first-Wednesday-of-every-month-gatherings for five years. “First I started doing sketches of what the books meant to me, but then wanted to do an homage to this group … to show that the participants are as important as the great characters in the books we read.” Pereira, 50, said that he has between 40 and 50 pages of book club remembrances in graphic novel form.
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol, and Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” are a few 2015 selections for the club, which celebrated its 17th anniversary on Oct. 7 with a discussion of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” “In light of all the mass shootings … Capote hits on every nerve,” said Rachelle Bijou, a poet who has been attending the club for over two years.
The reading group was started in 1998 by Lynn Sarro and the first book was “A Thousand Acres” by Jane Smiley. Sarro explains, “I was a ‘lit nerd’ and wasn’t happy with any of the book clubs I tried, so I figured I’d start my own. I didn’t want it to be too ‘clubby,’ but more focused on the literature.” Sarro found the perfect partner and host in Harris Healy, longtime owner of Logos. Healy, in fact, took over the leadership role when Sarro moved out of the neighborhood three years later. Healy, a participant for all 17 years, points to “Wild Swans,” by Jung Chang, “an amazing oral history of communist China,” as his favorite book discovered via Kill Your TV.
Evelyn Wilkens, 57, has been attending for over five years and calls Healy “a wonderful moderator” and considers getting to know people in the neighborhood a special aspect of the club. Her favorite books to date are “Far from the Madding Crowd,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “White Tiger.” Wilkens also points out that although most of the participants are from the Upper East Side, there are attendees who come from the Upper West Side and even Westchester. In addition, a married couple commutes from the Lower East Side, but since they now have a baby, the spouses attend alternate months.
At least 15 people show up every month, and weather permitting, hold their discussions in the garden outside behind the store. Leena Penttila, 66, who is a journalist from Finland, has been attending Kill Your TV for three years and regrets not knowing about it sooner. “Every book has its message and it widens your perspective when you hear other opinions … Much more interesting than being bored on the couch watching a soap opera or something.”
Penttila reads up to three books a week and strongly encourages people to join. “It’s always a very stimulating discussion. Reading keeps you active and you can also make friends,” Penttila said.
For quick readers interested in joining, the next gathering is Nov. 4 and the selection is “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” by Thornton Wilder. Healy said it’s the 205th book discussed and that they have had no repeats. (“Ulysses” by James Joyce, though, was discussed over two sessions.)
Pereira loves spending time in the garden and the “intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and creative points of view,” all gathered under one roof. And adds that, “as diverse as the books are, so are the people.”