Turning the page: book reading groups are taking off in Truckee
Cozying up in front of a fire between the covers of a good book is one way to get rid of the winter blues.
And it seems as though a lot of Truckee folks are doing just that.
With more than 10 known book clubs in town – many which are casual and hold discussions around potluck dinners – literary discussions seem to be a popular way to socialize.
“Truckee is a very literary community,” said Joyce Thomas, owner of Truckee Books. She said there are about six book clubs that sign up the books they read with the store at a 15 percent off discount.
The clubs typically rotate among members each month to choose the book and host the meeting at their home. The discussions are often combined with an extensive selection of homemade food and wine. The clubs are often made up of groups of friends or co-workers.
“They read everything from classics to non-classics to contemporary fiction and even some non-fiction,” Thomas said. “They seem to be all over the map in what they read.”
Jeff Schloss, who registers his books at Truckee Books, started a book club seven years ago.
“It seemed like I spent a lot of time talking about skiing, biking and sports and I wanted to broaden what my friends and I talked about,” he said. His club is made up mostly of his friends and is about half women and half men.
“Everyone always wanted to bring a friend and it just got bigger,” he said. “It’s grown to be fairly large with about 15 people right now.”
Schloss said the meetings usually last over two hours and there often isn’t a leader in the group discussion. They sometimes talk about the book itself and the issues the book brings up. The group is currently reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, a 1,500-page book set in India, for their next meeting this Friday.
“I have the feeling most people will not finish this one in time,” he said, adding they will probably discuss only the first third of the novel.
Schloss’ club usually reads about 10 books a year, and has read more than 70 books with the club since it first started.
“We’ve had a few duds and a few books that everyone has loved.”
“I’ve always been a reader,” he said. “Some people (in the club) are real hard-core readers and some aren’t. It’s people of all different backgrounds as far as reading is concerned. I think people just enjoy the social aspect of it.”
The Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks in Truckee hosts two in-store book clubs for community members. One group meets on the third Thursday of the month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Bookshelf staff take turns leading the discussions and the book is sold at a 15 percent off discount.
“We read everything from best-sellers to the real obscure books,” said store manager Lydia Sparksworthy. “It’s usually a pretty lively discussion.”
The group, like most, is casual and usually draws between six and 12 people. The group is currently reading Gap Creek by Robert Morgan for the next meeting, which will be held on Jan. 18.
Diane Fix also leads a mother/daughter book club at the Bookshelf. The next meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 17 and the book is Grasshopper Summer.
“We’re open to new members all the time,” Sparksworthy said.
She said there are two private clubs, that she knows of, that buy books under a frequent-buyer membership discount at the store.
“I think the book part of it is often an excuse to get together,” she said.
“The human element is pretty key in books, It’s a nice way to be in touch with people,” Sparksworthy said. “It really enhances the enjoyment of the book to be able to talk about it with people. It helps you figure out why you like a book and why you didn’t. My opinion usually gets changed during the course of discussion on a book. It helps us think critically and independently. You have to support your opinion.”
Those interested in Bookshelf book groups should call the store at 582-0515 for meeting dates and times, they change month to month.
Those interested in starting their own book club should contact staff at either Truckee Books, 582-8302, or the Bookshelf for group discount information.
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