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Could This Be It? Book Group


As well-read as San Francisco claims to be (it’s the, let’s have a roll of drum, third most bookish city in the United States after Washington DC and New York City in terms of book sales; Seattle has the most bookstores per capita), book groups are hard to come by, at least for me. I’ve been on a mission to look for one that partially meets my reading taste, that is, a mixture of classics and contemporary literature, and one that is open to explore new, ethnic, and gay and lesbian writers. I have overheard conversations of coworkers, friends and coffee shop regulars over their book clubs. That none of them have extended an invitation has convinced me that most book groups are probably tight-knit social gathering that are exclusive to a group of people who have developed long friendship over the years. They are comfortable to chat over their kids and family gossips over glasses of wine in addition to their bookish pursuit. Recently, I read about the SFLGBT Book Club on the newsletter of Books Inc, a local independent bookstore. For their next meeting on August 12, they will be discussing Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. I’m so there! On every last Wednesday of the month, they also host Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club at a different location. The upcoming selection is The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, which I read about two years ago. My question for you, my fellow blogger, is do you belong to a book group? Does your book group read books that are outside of your genre?

33 Responses

  1. Funny you should mention this. I’ve been trying to find one too, in the very un-bookish city of Orlando. I’m not really interested in a group that mostly gossips and yaks, and might perchance talk about a book somewhere in the meeting time. I think I have found one, but haven’t joined officially yet. The selection for July was something called “Peace Between the Sheets”. What the hell? Anyway, the book had to be ordered, and I didn’t have time to get it read before the meeting, so I will join up next month and see how it goes.

    BTW, I did make my first “Random” selection today, and lo and behold, it was the Fortune Cookie Chronicles! Out of a huge stack of books. I just laughed!

  2. I’d really like to join one… but alas, I haven’t found one that even remotely meets my reading tastes. There are plenty of romance novel reading groups as well as horror novel reading groups… but that doesn’t really suit my needs.

    Let me know how you like your first meeting with SFLGBT! 🙂

  3. I would love to belong to a book group but I live in a pretty rural place so that makes it hard to come by. The one that you’re wanting to join sounds really interesting. I hope you enjoy it!!

  4. Oh Matt, I used to go to this group for about, say, two years until my chess club changed the weekly match to the same night as the book club! I think you’ll enjoy the group and it seems to me that they have selected great readings! 🙂

  5. I do belong to a book group. I started it in the year 2000 with some ladies that I worked with at the time who also happened to be my friends. Our group expanded to almost 15 members at one point before going back down to about 8-10 members. I started the group because I read very little fiction and wanted to expand my reading horizons. I wish the group picked a more diverse selection of books but I have had the opportunity to read a few that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I hope you enjoy your meeting! I’ve always been tempted to join a book group at a local bookstore but always shied away from it. I’ll be interested to see how you like it.

  6. Oh this is a great blog. I had the exact same issue with this in London, yes thats right the UK’s capital. So in the end I spoke to fellow London book blogger Kimbofo and we started one last month. Everyone gets to choose in Alphabetical order and so it should be a really good mix of literature of all types. Am so pleased you found a good one, do report back!

  7. I belong to a book group that has been meeting for nearly ten years. We’re all friends, from the same town, etc…but we seem to be doing less and less in the way of book discussion. Selections cannot be too long, too ‘hard’ or too depressing. We still manage to find some good books, but I’m glad I have so many wonderful blogging friends to talk books with! Can’t wait to hear about your new group!

  8. I do not belong to a book club, but I have thought about joining one. Unfortunately there are none near where I live and my friends are not book readers, so asking them if they want to start one is not going to happen. Truth be told, I was in a book group during Uni and I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I would have hoped – so maybe I am just better off not being in one or maybe I just have yet to find the right group. Oh well, for now I will just stick to Goodreads. As for the group you are going to participate in – it sounds pretty groovy! Hope you enjoy it!!

  9. I go back and forth on book clubs. I have pretty particular tastes about what I want to read. I also find that as the groups get familiar with one another, they spend less time on the book and more time on social talk. Hope this group will be a good experience for you.

  10. Enjoy! That soudns like a great group. I belong to our library’s book group. I try to read all the selections, but sometimes my attendance is spotty. I do love hearing other people’s reactions to the selections, especially when they’re different from mine!

  11. Glad you found a group! My book group is actually comprised of mom types with varying tastes in books so we get a lot of variety in our reads. And whereas the wine does flow freely and we are very food-centric, we found each other because we are the one likely to stay away from gossip. Nice. Now starting a community book group around the school where I teach to include faculty, parent group and larger community of Shaw in DC. Will let you know how it goes.

  12. I like the idea of blogs being my book club! Because otherwise I’d invariably be reading stuff I don’t really want to, and with blogs, I can always find someone who has read what I did or something interesting I then want to read. And you’re right, groups are hard to break into. But one that advertises in a newsletter clearly wants new members, so I think it’s worth a try!

  13. Oh that’s great news, Matt! Hope you enjoy your new group! Fill us in as you go along? I would love to be part of a book group but not sure if I can find one that suits my tastes. I consider my shared reads here in the blogging world a sort of a book group, I guess.

  14. I had to start my own book group, because I like International Fiction. I had joined one at a Borders in Dallas, but when I moved back to New Orleans, I couldn’t find one.

    My club is open to anyone and is drop-in. I advertise in two local papers and craigslist.

    I am trying to push it more to discussion; we have been getting off topic, so another club member is helping me to steer the discussion away from personal talk.

    Good luck with your group.

  15. Both of your book group options sound great! I just started my first book group a few months ago. A friend and I decided to start the group together, each inviting a handful of other friends, so each of us knew about half of the group going in.

    We’ve read The Help and The Gargoyle so far are doing Zoe Heller’s The Believers in a couple weeks….all of these are totally within my usual reading, but I’m hoping other members will make recommendations that bring me outside my box.

    Enjoy and keep us posted on your book club experience!

  16. I’m surprised you’ve found it hard to join a book group. I hope this one will be great though!

    I do belong to a book group but it’s just a mystery one. Occasionally we’ve read books outside of the genre as long as there is some mystery aspect to it. It’s fun.

    When I lived in Dallas though I belonged to the same book group for about 14 years. It was fabulous. We read a lot of prize-winning literature and all the books had to be from non-American authors. Gave us a chance to “travel” the world in a way! I so miss that group. We did read The Magic Mountain too – well, I only got about half way but one day I’ll get through it 🙂

  17. Sandy:
    I think you’ll enjoy The Fortune Cookie Chronicles very much. It’s a very quick read, so informative and fun.

    Another problem with my book group search is that the ones that are open read stuffs that I have either not heard of or have no interest to read.

  18. lena:
    I have the same problem. Numerous reading groups devote to romance, chic lit, and sci-fi.

  19. Staci:
    I love how as bloggers we are sort of an online book group. We read our own things and discuss them. It’s a great converging ground. 🙂

  20. John:
    REALLY?!? Okay I’ll update you the latest! 🙂

  21. Kathleen:
    I am glad your book group has influenced your reading choices and it seems to me you have a very close group. I really envy the kind of interaction you have. I’ll let you know how mine goes. 🙂

  22. savidgereads:
    Just because of your great book group I wish to move to London. 🙂

  23. JoAnn:
    Your book group sounds very ideal to me! 🙂

  24. Nadia:
    I wish to belong to one that read a diversity of literature and authors. So these two combined might fulfill my need as long as selection goes. I’ll update you with the meeting. 🙂

  25. Juliann:
    I don’t mind scoail talk when I get to know the members better. But first and foremost, I idea of the book group would be focus on literary discussion. 🙂

  26. Amy Reads Good Books:
    I was looking at my library book group but their selections are off my taste. The bookstore turns out to have 6 groups and I am looking forward to go to the ones I have marked. 🙂

  27. Frances:
    You seem to have cultivated a great book club that focuses on literary discussions. It sounds so ideal to me. 🙂

  28. rhapsodyinbooks:
    It’s almost like you have to synchronize to their rhythm. The longer the group has established, the harder to break in.

  29. claire:
    Yes, I totally agree with you that this book blogging community is one big book group that defies the geography. I enjoy reading everyone’s literary journey here and not to mention I have drawn reading ideas from all of you. 🙂

  30. Isabel:
    I know if I live in your city I’ll be part of your book club. We have very similar reading taste. 🙂

  31. Rebecca @ The Book Lady’s Blog:
    I cannot wait to read The Help! 🙂
    It amazes me that members in a book group can influence each other to trying new genres and getting out of the comfort zone. I’m looking forward to the book groups that I have picked, and will update you on that. 🙂

  32. iliana:
    I know most book groups I read about consist of women, it would be interesting to see the make-up of the two groups I’m going. 🙂

  33. Oh, that sounds like fun! I would love to read Thomas Mann (get in line Mr. Mann behind Willa Cather, and DH Lawrence and EM Forster, and…). I used to belong to a local bookclub that was made up of people who worked in the library as well as some of their friends. The group morphed a bit, and I no longer am part, but they can be lots of fun and a good way to be exposed to new and different books. Now I just belong to the online Slaves of Golconda and I’ve read some good books via them that I don’t think I would have picked up otherwise. We take turns coming up with a selection of books and then eveyrone votes. Next up is Dawn Powell (my selection).

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