Book Group Leaders

 

Liz Epstein

Founder, Literary Masters

My two most important accomplishments (well, technically, they are still works in progress) are my amazing daughters.  When they were much younger, I enrolled in graduate school part-time.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made; I found it to be a mind-altering experience.  After my classes, I would come home and we would all do our homework together, which made the work fun for me.  I get nostalgic thinking of those days…

I earned a Master’s degree in English Literature.  My thesis, entitled “Mind the Gap,” is a Lacanian reading of three of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels: The Great GatsbyTender is the Night, and The Love of the Last Tycoon.  Let me know if you’re interested in reading it.

I have taught English at both the college level (in a state prison) and at the high school level, two very different and incredibly rewarding experiences.  I love teaching, but even more, I love learning!  I approach my book groups with this attitude: let’s exchange our ideas and thoughts and see what we can learn from each other.

I lived in England for a time, and it remains one of my favorite places in every respect, including its literary heritage.  I love Jane Austen~for many reasons~and occasionally I run a “Jane Austen Literary Salon,” in which we read all six novels.  This is one of my most popular book groups; stay tuned for the next one!


Alison Engel

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I am a reader. I read a lot all of the time, sometimes even when I am drying my hair. Like Liz, I have two daughters whom I regard as my biggest accomplishments. I read to both of them almost all of the way through their middle school years, and was susceptible to bribes of backrubs in exchange for reading “one more page” or “one more chapter.”

For someone who loves to read, it may be odd that my graduate degree is in television. It is officially a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism, which, as my parents predicted, I never used. My career ended up being in advertising at several agencies both in San Francisco and New York so I spent a lot of time thinking about effective communication.

Whenever I can get myself into my desk chair and offline these days, I like to write fiction, both short and long form. I have taken a number of creative writing classes at the UC Berkeley extension. Through writing, I have come to appreciate good books, whether for children or adults, even more. I know how hard it is to create them!


Kathy Moore

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I am a lifelong word lover! For the past fifteen years, I have signed every email with this message, “words matter,” because they do. The words we read, the words we write, the words we speak, and those words that are unspoken – they all have weight and meaning. My passion is literacy, and I believe in promoting social justice through sharing books and ideas. My doctoral work was focused on looking at poetry and language as a way to better understand mathematics. I have an enormous collection of books – more than 4,000 copies line the shelves in every room of my house.

I have facilitated numerous book clubs and writing groups;  when my youngest daughter was in elementary and middle school I hosted a Mother-Daughter Book Group out of our local bookstore. I love talking about books almost as much as I love reading them. Probably my favorite thing in the whole world is sitting in the backyard for uninterrupted hours, lost inside a good book while the birds sing in the treetops.

My full time job is working with teachers and coaches in the local school district. I also teach poetry workshops and am an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s College. For the past four years I have had the honor of being the City of San Ramon’s Poet Laureate. My greatest joy in life has been raising four daughters who are now grown. My husband Bob and I also have two young grandsons with whom we share a love of books and stories.


Courtney Rodgers

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So many books so little time. For too long now I have lamented over my busy teaching schedule keeping me from reading all the books on my ever-growing list. No more. I’ve recently concluded a 16-year-long chapter in my life when I retired from teaching this past June. A favorite part of my work was serving as the reading specialist at Ross School, a K-8 public school in Marin County, California where I worked with learners of all ages to further elevate literacy and the joy of reading. Our reading program at Ross School earned the International Literacy Association’s exemplary program award for California. While at Ross School I also served as the learning specialist, instructional coach, library teacher, middle school humanities teacher, enrichment project developer, and director of educational technology.

I grew up in San Marino, California and attended public schools all the way through high school graduating as a San Marino High School Titan just like my mom, dad and 3 siblings. For undergraduate work, I attended SMU, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, and graduated in 1997 with a BA in Spanish and minors in art history, creative writing, and Latin American Studies. I later attended the University of San Francisco to obtain my K-8 teaching credential as well as a MA in teaching, 2001. I also hold Gifted and Talented certification from USC and a secondary CA Clear Reading Certificate.

My husband Matt, also a SMU graduate, our 8 year old daughter Quinn and 6 year old son Fletcher and I are moving east this summer to settle into a new home in Franklin, Tennessee. Starting in January 2019 I hope to begin new book club groups amongst a new set of book loving people. My goal as a Literary Masters Facilitator is to spark your children’s curiosity for story because today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders.


Marie Crouch

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My love of literature burgeoned in Vermont at Middlebury College where I had the opportunity to study works in their original language. Having grown up in the Midwest, my introduction to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Descartes, Proust and Tibetan Buddhist philosophers in their native tongue was a revelation. There was so much to discover, all in a small, rural town blanketed in snow! Many believe Freud’s theories borrowed heavily from Tolstoy’s writings, and I would agree. That literary exposure piqued my interest in psychology, and soon, I headed across country to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at UCLA, where my focus was on Child, Teen and Health Psychology. I worked with children and families on issues ranging from depression and anxiety to learning differences. While I relished my time in Los Angeles, when we landed in the Bay Area, I decided to take a break to raise our two daughters.

In San Francisco, I committed myself to volunteerism in the arts. One of my favorite volunteer positions was to arrange author and illustrator visits for our daughters’ middle school and adult fundraisers. I was fortunate to become acquainted with a wide range of authors and artists and to hear their stories about how and why they wrote what they did. Those presentations, combined with my own experiences in adult and Mother/Daughter book groups, convinced me that books had the power to heal, elevate and challenge others’ perspectives.

I look forward to sharing the seeds of the authors represented in Literary Masters’ library and to embarking upon a journey of discovery, connection and inspiration with adults, parents and their children.