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Norwich Prepares A Yearly Feast of Words

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/23/2017 10:00:53 PM
Modified: 3/24/2017 3:48:03 PM

Once a year, people in Norwich throw open their houses, and dinner tables, for Tables of Content, an event that combines good food, great books and lively conversation as a way to raise money for the Norwich Public Library.

This year, dinners will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, and Saturday, April 8 at 10 different houses in town.

The idea is to read ahead of the meal a book selected by a host, whose identity remains a surprise until a week before the dinner. You select from the reading list of 10 books your top three choices, fill out a form and are then matched with one of the books and hosts. The cost is $65 per person; $60 per person for two or more guests.

In previous years the event has raised some $5,000 for the library, said its director Lucinda Walker. A typical number of guests is around 100, she said.

“I always feel afterwards that the good feeling that is engendered from these dinners is a great outcome, and when people make new friends that always makes me happier,” said Walker, who has acted as a co-host of a dinner, and will do so again this spring.

That Tables of Content takes place in mud season is no coincidence: At this time of year Northern New Englanders usually have a serious case of cabin fever, and being invited to someone else’s home for dinner and conversation is a good way to get out of the house, Walker said.

The books to be discussed on April 1 are: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

The April 8 books are: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, God’s Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher, The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, Second Suns by David Relin, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

“Tables of Content is such a lovely way to get to know people in a way you never would have otherwise,” said Lisa Christie, a co-host this year. “I’ve both attended and hosted, and sometimes conversations stick strictly to the book, and other times they barely touch on the book.”

Last year, Christie co-hosted with Walker a dinner centered on Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his memoir of Paris in the 1920s. They served a beef Bourguignon, using a Julia Child recipe. In another year they did a barbecue in a salute to the book of choice: Friday Night Lights, the non-fiction book by Buzz Bissinger about Texas high school football.

It’s not unusual, said Walker and Christie, to meet people at the dinners whom you’ve never met before. “It’s fun to see these connections being forged. Anything where we can get people to meet and expand their horizons is a good thing,” Walker said.

And the dinners are a reminder, if one is needed, that “the library is such an important place for the community,” Christie said.

To register go to or for more information call 802-649-1184.

Reading Rescheduled

A planned reading of Hanover resident Carol Armstrong’s poetry at the Norwich Bookstore fell on the day after the recent blizzard. Thanks to the lousy weather, the reading was postponed until April 7 at 7 p.m. Armstrong’s fellow members of the Still Puddle Poets, a poetry group that generally meets in Hanover, will read from Armstrong’s work, and Armstrong plans to attend.

The reading is free, but seating is limited. Call the bookstore at 802-649-1114 or email to reserve a seat, even if you reserved a spot for the earlier date.

Nicola Smith can be reached at


The Tables of Content dinners to benefit the Norwich Public Library will be held this year on Saturday, April 1, and Saturday, April 8. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the second Saturday.

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