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There's a Book Club for You!

Book clubs can be a great escape if you need a break, and you don’t have to be a serious bookworm to enjoy one. From the literary scholar to the mystery lover to the casual reader who likes to socialize as much as read, there’s a place for everyone in the Delaware Valley’s numerous book clubs. Here’s how to find one that suits your reading personality.

Libraries and Bookstores

“If you’re looking for a book club, call your local library,” says Owen Thorne, reference staff member and book club coordinator at the Bear Library in Delaware. “Most libraries have a book club and some have more than one.”

Tap Your Network

Looking within your own network of acquaintances is a great way to find or start a book club. Send out an e-mail to local friends, family and co-workers or post a message on Facebook that you’re looking for a book club.

“As a mom, it can be difficult to get out in the evenings, and this is a great way to get something on the calendar and ensure a night away with friends,” says Beth Bilus, who belongs to a book club comprised of friends from a MOMS Club in Abington, PA.

Kerri Kelly, mother of two from Chalfont, PA, says she joined a book club of fellow workers at a former job and now finds it a great way to stay in touch since many members of the group have moved on to different jobs.

If you don’t find the club you’re looking for, start your own. Melissa Przelski, mother of two from Lawrenceville, NJ, says she and her neighbors had all expressed interest in joining a book club, so they decided to form their own. One of them sent out an e-mail to women in the neighborhood as well as to some other local friends and their club quickly grew to 15 women.

Many bookstores also have clubs, including most Barnes and Noble stores, according to Linda King, community relations manager for Barnes and Nobel in Cherry Hill, NJ. Her store offers two clubs for adults — a fiction book club and a history book club, as well as a mother-and-daughter club for girls ages 8-12 and their moms.

Library book clubs and most bookstore book clubs are free and open to everyone. The library or bookstore will often select the book or suggest a few and let the members vote.“It’s a great way to meet new friends with a shared interest in books,” says King.

The Internet

The Internet is an abundant resource for finding book clubs. The website www.meetup.com, known for helping people find fellow hobbyists in their location, lists more than 100 book clubs throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. The groups range from general fiction book clubs, to romance book clubs, to clubs focusing on political works.

Another website, www.readerscircle.org, is searchable by zip code and generates a list of general interest book clubs as well as topic-specific clubs in the area. The site lists some unique groups, such as a club hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that reads and discusses non-fiction and fiction books about gardening and plants.

Club Meetings

While some groups meet in each other’s homes and participants bring snacks or drinks to share, other book clubs meet at a coffee shop or community site. Methods of choosing books can include members taking turns picking the book or voting on nominated selections.

Many groups meet monthly or every six weeks. Some book clubs have in-depth discussions about symbolism and syntax while others use the book as a jumping off point for a conversation that can lead anywhere.

As you find or form a book club to match your interests, “make it fun,” says Abington, PA mom Beth Bilus. “Bring some food and drink, be open to reading books you might not have chosen on your own, and enjoy some meaningful discussion during a well-deserved break.”

Susan Stopper is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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