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Book Clubs Uncovered

Find the best book club bets for every literary taste.
Thursday Jan 01, 2009.     By Danielle Braff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Local authors Claire Zulkey, Wendy McClure, Elizabeth Crane, Jen Lancaster and Stacey Ballis
photo: courtesy of Book Cellar
We all know that reading a book is a solitary act. But analyzing a book is so much more fun (and challenging) when you're in a group setting. So grab your favorite novel, get up off that couch and head over to one of Chicago's many book clubs. Don't know which one to join? We've filtered through them all to provide you with a wide variety, regardless of whether you're a history fanatic or a chick-lit expert.

For mystery and history lovers
The city's aspiring-gumshoes gather at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore on the third Saturday of every month at 2 p.m. to discuss mystery novels. Into Some Danger Involved, a Sherlock Holmes-esque novel set in Victorian London's Jewish ghetto, or how about A Cold Day for Murder by Kat Shugak, which the club read last year? It tends to attract a mixed crowd of men and women in their mid-30s, and the members lead their own discussions sans moderator. If your reading interests skew more history than mystery, this store's got you covered, too. Its history book club meets on the last Sunday of every month at 2 p.m.; the folks who swoon over historical events have delved into Joan of Arc by Mark Twain and Intimate Voices from the First World War by Svetlana Palmer and Sarah Wallis. Both clubs are free, but the store expects you to purchase the book onsite.

For gay and lesbian readers
Gay and lesbian bookworms have a few queer-focused book club options. Gay men are encouraged to visit the Gerber/Hart Gay and Lesbian Library & Archives every fourth Tuesday of the month from 7:30-9 p.m., while ladies should hit the library every second Tuesday of the month from 7:30-9 p.m. The groups primarily discuss gay and lesbian literature, like Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (a coming-of-age lesbian novel) and the story of a woman who pretended to be a man, Self Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back by Norah Vincent. Gay men are also invited to join a book club organized by the Unabridged bookstore staff, which meets at the shop at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month, to talk about gay-themed literature and non-fiction.

For drinkers with a reading habit
Reading is great and all, but reading with the reward of drinking really motivates you to finish that book. Join the resident lushes who set up shop at the Book Cellar on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. for a discussion directed by the owner. The bookstore's cafe offers wines and pastries to perfectly accompany the discussion—whether you're reading Jeremy Mercer's Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co or Naeem Murr's The Perfect Man. The club focuses on local fiction wordsmiths. It often has signed books available, and some authors even show up to engage in the discussion.

For world travelers
The next best thing to traveling the world with friends is reading about traveling the world with friends. At 826CHI's Globiblio club (run by 826CHI's community outreach coordinator, Patrick Shaffner), members gather on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. to discuss books from around the globe, like Alicia Cossio's Bruna & Her Sisters in the Sleeping City (from Ecuador) and David Toscana's Tula Station (from Mexico). The non-profit writing/tutoring center, founded by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Dave Eggers, features a different country each month, and participants often bring food from that country to share. The tutoring lab can get packed, so be sure to RSVP to (773) 772-8108 ahead of time.


Explore More

Bars & Clubs

Brand-New Bars

Brand-New Bars

Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

Food & Dining

New Restaurants

New Restaurants

Go Dutch at Vincent and satisfy a familiar sweet tooth at BomBon.

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