LitClub: Book Lovers Group of Gainesville
IT TAKES COURAGE to put yourself out there in the online world looking for strangers with the same interests as you. That's how this incredibly successful book club got started. One person took a risk...and hit the jackpot!
Before we get started, what's with...the horse?
Ah, yes. We take on various community projects; this one was helping out at a rescue farm for horses.
We've also organized drives for food, toys, and school supplies. Some of us volunteer as reading tutors at our local library.
Wow! Well, let's talk about how the Book Lovers Group got going.
Alexandra, the group's founder, couldn't find a local book club in Gainesville. She looked around but without any luck; even her friends weren't big readers.
So she turned to Meetup.com, where she set up a group...and seven people responded!
Alexandra says she'll never forget their first meeting—at a local pizza parlor—to discuss how to go about selecting books...and which ones they would begin reading. That first gathering was such fun that it cemented the group.
How many members now?
We're up to 140, but 13-15 members come to any given meeting...though more, 25-30, show up for our special events.
What kind of events?
Field trips—like a spring picnic, an antiquarian book fair, library book sale, author signings, book related movies and plays. We also held our first anniversary party and a Christmas party. There's always something going on.
That's for sure! Do you ever find time to read?
Ha-ha...yes, we do. Here are the books for our first year:
Claire de Lune
Stiff: Curious Lives of Cadavers
Q: A Novel
First Rule of Swimming
Great list! Any particularly good discussions?
Both Middlesex and Q generated excellent discussions, getting us all talking! Because Middlesex is such a controversial topic, it really inspired some profound thinking. With Q, we were intrigued by the idea of time travel and how, if we had the option, it would affect society.
Where do you hold your regular meetings?
At our local library, the Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County Library System in Gainesville. We meet on the first Saturday of the month for book discussions.
But we also meet at a cafe—on the third Saturday of the month. We refer to them as our "Cup of Joe" meetups, when we vote on the books for the next month or two. Any one can come to vote, but we also use the occasion to welcome new members and do book swaps.
So how do you make your book selections?
We keep a running list of suggestions emailed in by members. From there, Alexandra and the club's officers select up to three titles. The selections are presented at our monthly Cup of Joe gatherings (the third Saturday of the month).
Your group is co-ed. Does that affect your book club choices?
Very much so. The only rule we have is that books should appeal to both genders as much as possible. And to make sure we don't hurt anyone's feelings, we keep all suggestions, including the winning selection, anonymous.
You've put together quite a vibrant group! Is there anything you'd like to leave us with?
Just that we're respectful of one another's ideas and differences of opinion. We're full of drive, and we want to make sure our members have fun doing what they love to do—read!
Membership is open. Our intention is to meet new people, promote literacy, and help our community in any way we can. There's always something to do...and something going on!
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