Gahanna's Rowdy Readers book group has discussed more than 360 books over the past 30 years.

Gahanna's Rowdy Readers book group has discussed more than 360 books over the past 30 years.

Members have shared more than just literature, though.

"Together we've gone through the births of children, the deaths of children and our parents," said Grace Thiel, an original member of the club. "We've gone through a lot together."

"That has been as important as the books," 20-year member Mary Kin agreed.

The group has met on the third Wednesday of the month for the past three decades.

The book club officially launched, thanks to the late Jean Criswell, former director of the Gahanna library branch who served as the original moderator.

The first meeting was held in 1982, and the inaugural book discussion was based on "Tisha," by Anne Hobbs.

"The library used to be where the senior center is now located," said Nancy Nungesser, who formerly worked at the library and succeeded Criswell as moderator. "It was a tiny building, and the meetings were in the manager's office. There were bookshelves to divide the spaces, and they would start talking and laughing. They were told they were being loud every once in a while. I'd have to tell the ladies they were being too rowdy."

The scolding gave the club of about 10 women its name.

When it started, the group comprised several Gahanna housewives who had children in school, Nungesser said.

"A lot of them had known each other from being in the same church groups," she said. "At least five current members have been there from the start. They have this history that really goes back. They're like herding cats because they want to talk about their kids and grandkids."

The current club members range in age from 81 to the youngest, who's in her 50s, Nungesser said. The group has remained small to maintain a manageable discussion, and someone has to move away or die to make room for a new member, Thiel joked.

Most of the women wear black-swan lapel pins, in memory of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's best-selling book, "The Black Swan."

"We loved that book, so we all have black-swan pins," Thiel said.

Club member Ruth Palmer, a Gahanna school bus driver, said she loves to read.

"This gets me to read a lot of different things," she said. Member Connie Bowers said the group has forced her to read books she wouldn't have picked up otherwise.

"Sometimes we try to get local authors," she said. "My son came to share with the group when he was 12. Now he's 42 years old."

"We've had dinners, and we usually have a potluck every September," Thiel said. "On our 25th anniversary, we went to Bunnie Geroux's tea house."

According to Barbara Macklin, the group has been together so long that it sometimes takes a "collective brain" to recall certain events.

One of her favorite books to read was Louis L'Amour's "Last of the Breed."

"It was a typical Louis L'Amour," she said. "All of us liked it. It was about an American jet pilot."

Member Shirley Ishmael said they've been reading best-selling books recently. Last week, they discussed "Half Broke Horses," by Jeannette Walls.

"It's a historic novel about the 1930s out West," Nungesser said. "A woman wrote about her grandmother. It was more about their kids being half broke, not the horses."

Discussions aren't based solely on books, though.

At the end of last week's meeting, Nungesser gave an update about a new chapter in the life of original club member Rita Unverzagt, who is in a local assisted-living facility.

"She has been trying to listen to books on tape," Nungesser said. "When we visited, she told everyone who passed by us, 'These are my Rowdy Reader friends.' She said to tell everyone hi and she misses us. The visit made her day."