Connecticut 169 Club
By Martin Podskoch
Hardcover, North Country Books, 2018
Part travel guide, part treasure hunt, part social network, “Connecticut 169 Club” is a lively, entertaining and well-illustrated guide to the state’s 169 municipalities, which makes it a great gift book for people who live in or frequent the Nutmeg State. The idea is to visit all the towns and meet people in each who will sign or stamp your book to prove you’ve been there.
Podskoch himself is not a Nutmegger (he previously lived in New York State and did a similar project for the Adirondacks). Nevertheless he has brought together the inside stories and local recommendations of historians, librarians and freelancers who know and love their towns. (Full disclosure: my wife is one of the contributors and we have attended numerous author talks and the first annual award dinner of the club.)
Editing a project of this scope with so many volunteer contributors is no easy feat, and stylistically the chapters can be inconsistent and a little rough around the edges. As with any guidebook, keeping the information up to date can also be a challenge. Most of the content is current as of 2019, but we know of at least one featured landmark eatery that will be closing by the end of the year.
Readers who register with the club are invited to an annual dinner where those who have completed the circuit receive a Leather Man patch, invoking the spirit of the vagabond who traveled much of Connecticut in the late 1800s. The first dinner was well attended, with about 150 strangers who bonded over their common quest, and about two dozen who had completed it. (We were not among the winners; although we’ve visited most of the towns we keep forgetting the bring the book with us!)