A Good Excuse to Drink More Wine

By Carrie Rollwagen Let’s talk about book clubs, those tight little groups of readers who wander around the city, carrying wine and paperbacks into each other’s living rooms. You have basically two classes of book group: those who actually read the book, and those who pretty much just drink the wine and gossip. As a book nerd, you’d think I’d be more impressed with the first group. But, surprise! Book nerds like wine and conversation, too. I’m actually equally excited about both.*


In a book club where members all read, there’s often a fascinating exchange of ideas. In a club with strangers, you find commonalities through stories. And book clubbing with a group of friends allows you to have safe conversations about everything from love to politics to religion — because you’re discussing these topics through the lense of fiction, you can be more open about your opinions without worrying about hurt feelings. (Well, worrying less about hurt feelings, anyway.) Besides, it’s fun to talk about reading with other people. When you’ve spent time in an imaginary world, when you’ve fallen in love there and traveled with world there and existed on this whole other plane of existence for awhile, it’s nice to talk to other people who’ve been there, too. It’s kind of like a summer camp reunion, but with less canoeing.

But a book club where nobody reads (well, nobody except that one overachiever — which is usually me, btw), the discussions are still pretty awesome. The thing is, books tend to foster conversations, even when we barely crack their spines. It’s part of the magic of books that just being in their presence makes us feel like sharing our own stories. That’s part of the reason even non-readers seem drawn to our little coffee/bookshop — having all those books around makes us feel cozy, more at home, and more apt to settle in for a good chat.


Grab a stack of books and go clubbing! You know, book clubbing.


Now that the weather’s turning (kind of) chilly, I’ve been thinking more about starting a book group. I’d love to be in a book club that reads children’s classics like Stuart Little, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Wizard of Oz. I think it’d be fun to revisit these childhood myths as grownups, to see how they stand the test of time and whether they still hold the same magic. I also think it’d be fun to do a book club on the book Adaptations, a collection of short stories that have been turned into film. I think a book group about how a short story is re-imagined to fill a two-hour time slot could be pretty fascinating. (Also, a short story book club seems awesomely low-commitment.)** And I’ve also thought about doing a book club focused on one author, like Dave Eggers (who has a great mix of both fiction and non-fiction work), or Murakami (which I think would be even richer after a good discussion).


Who knows if any of these ideas will pan out (although, if you’re interested in joining one, email me at churchstreetshop@gmail.com and we’ll try to work it out). Either way, it’s fun to think about. No matter your choice of reading, think about starting a book group with a few friends. Keep it simple, and don’t try to read too much at a time — we all have busy lives, after all. But I think you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it, and how it strengthens your friendships. Plus, it’s a great way to discover new books — and to share the ones you already love.


* This is a confusing modifier. Do I mean “both” wine and conversation, or “both” reading book groups and non-reading book groups? The answer is Yes.


** I can’t remember, but I may have stolen this idea from Books on the Nightstand. I certainly got the book recommendation there.


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

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