Friends, Fare and Fun Invigorate Book Clubs
Book clubs are more popular than ever, whether in person with social distance or virtual. There is something cathartic about sharing the love of the written word. For some, it is all about the books. For other groups, it may be about the drink of choice. Some are seriously committed to the discussion, while members of other groups are just happy to have a few hours to themselves. Whatever your reason, book clubs are great for everyone. And yes, men belong to book clubs, too, although in fewer numbers.
Looking for a book club? There are many to choose from in our area.
I am an active member of Reformation Brewery’s Books & Brews book club that meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month in the downtown Woodstock location. (Reformation hopes to start a club in the Canton location, meeting on the first Wednesday of the month starting this month.) Each of us reads different books within a general theme. Each attendee shares about the book(s) they read that month. This means our TBR (to be read) list grows as we learn about other recommended books. Drinking beer is optional; they also sell soft drinks.
Downtown Woodstock’s FoxTale Book Shoppe has been a staple in our community since 2007 and offers two book clubs. FoxTalk Book Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of the month. This original group has about 20 active members, who discuss one book that everyone reads.
FoxTale’s newest book club is Hooked on Books, and typically meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month. Recent selections included “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger, and “Trust Me” by Hank Phillippi Ryan. In some cases, the author will join the book club discussion in person or via Zoom!
Where else can you find a book club? Subdivisions, churches, libraries, online or workplaces often have book clubs. There are many online, in all genres, that you can access through social media sites such as Facebook.
Want to start your own? That can be fun, too. Choosing books in varying genres will help to keep your book clubs and discussions fresh and ever-changing. It is most enjoyable when you have different opinions, so I suggest looking for books that may challenge your perspectives. Working with a local independent bookstore or library also can inspire great ideas for meaty books and author connections.
– Gary Parkes works in marketing and has been a longtime bibliophile.
Books and Business: the Perfect Mashup
Looking for something beyond the normal book club? The monthly entrepreneurship book club, known as the Learning Community, could be just what you’re looking for.
Jonathan Chambers, community manager of entrepreneurship with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, leads the group every second Thursday at the Circuit in downtown Woodstock.
The Learning Community uses books to spur curiosity and community learning, and actionable conversations to improve entrepreneurs and their businesses. We asked Chambers to share more about this unique local book club. www.circuitwoodstock.com.
How many members, how often do you meet?
We meet every second Thursday at the Circuit at 10:30 a.m. Our group involves six local leaders and has grown recently to add two more.
When did your club begin?
In the fall of 2019, Ben Carter, of Carter Realty and Grow ROI, and I started a book club for entrepreneurs that was more than just a book club … a monthly learning community of entrepreneurs who are naturally curious, eager to learn and grow, and wanted to put ideas to action to better themselves and their businesses. As one of our members, Justin Kier, said, “It’s so rare to find a group like this that is committed to not just discussing big ideas, but also how to practically put them into action. This is something I look forward to every month, because I walk out of the room better than when I walked in, every single time.”
How do you choose the books you read?
We read each book for two months — reading and discussing it the first month, and creating and executing our action plan the second month. Books are recommended by each member and voted on at the end of the second month.
What are your top tips for a successful club?
It’s not about books, it’s about people. Books are a tool to discover knowledge. Learning is best done in a community of friends with diverse stories, perspectives, and ideas. Make it about applying the knowledge, not about collecting it. Especially during COVID-19 and the turmoil in our world, time is of the essence. Maximize people’s time by making your club actionable.
What are you reading?
We just finished reading “Rehumanize Your Business,” about the power of personal videos for marketing and communication. To date, it was the most powerful and actionable book we have read. For September-October, we are reading “Story Driven: You Don’t Need to Compete When You Know Who You Are,” by Bernadette Jiwa. Stories drive everything that matters in business, including who we are as business owners. If we lean into our story, we don’t have to be distracted by or driven to competition.
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