According to a wise professor, we don’t fully experience a book until we’ve discussed it with a fellow reader. Apparently, lots of people believe this to be true because the tradition of the book club is thriving all over America. They meet in women’s clubs, business clubs, public libraries, coffee houses, bookstores, members’ living rooms, cruise ships, church basements and more. It seems there will always be bookworms, so there will always be book clubs. Nerds are here to stay. San Francisco is a literary town and it should be no surprise that the Bay Area has a plethora of book clubs for any type of reader. Here are a few in the East Bay that are well established.
East Bay Book Club
This club, organized online via MeetUp (as are many other clubs) and meeting in various places, is one of the best established in the East Bay, going strong since 2007. The organizer collects a $5 yearly membership fee to help offset costs, and, in addition to book club meetings, members often arrange social get-togethers of various sorts. The club typically hosts meetings twice a month. One meeting focuses on contemporary books and one focuses on the classics.
The Intimates: The East Bay Queer Book Club
1344 Park St.
Alameda, CA 94501
Given the Bay Area’s famously accepting attitude towards the LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bi/trans/questioning) community, it should surprise no one that book clubs focused on queer literature are popular. Books Incorporated has been active in California since the Gold Rush days of the 1850s. It knows something about selling books and running book clubs. It has 12 locations throughout the Bay area, most of which have regular book clubs meeting on site. The Intimates is one such popular group that has been meeting regularly for over a year, often with a healthy attendance of 20+ readers. The group makes a point of letting folks know it welcomes straight allies as well. Everybody is welcomed.
Related: Best New Books for Summer 2013
The Herzog Street Fiction Book Club
This small group has been meeting on Herzog Street in Emeryville for over a year now, and it is ready to welcome new members. The group enjoys potlucks at its meetings and members try to bring food that is thematically related to the book under discussion. Leadership is on a rotating basis. The format allows each member to individually share a review of the book, followed by a group discussion.
Bay Area Classic Fiction Book Club
This popular club emphasizes a casual approach. While some clubs use guidelines and prepared questions to stimulate discussion, this one emphasizes friendly discussion over food and libations. It selects books by vote of the membership. Current reading plans include works by Edith Wharton, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. The group occasionally branches out to attend films or live plays as a group.
Berkeley Public Library Read and Share Book Club
Berkeley Public Library
2090 Kittridge St.
Berkley, CA 94704
This club meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library. Members read and discuss a wide variety of books. For folks who may be hesitant to go to a book club meeting in a stranger’s home, this is a good public alternative. The public libraries in most cities offer similar opportunities.
Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at Examiner.com.