Community King's Books sign, photo by J. Daniel Elquist

Published on January 20th, 2012 | by Katy Evans

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Book Clubs for All

King's Books sign, photo by J. Daniel Elquist

I think we can all agree that King’s Books is a vital, wonderful, reliable contributor to our community fabric.

Hosting events and parties, sharing recommendations, offering a daily respite for quiet exploration and cat cuddling, exposing local talent to the masses, connecting curious individuals with opportunities to learn more about and become more involved with Tacoma — really I could go on and on about the abundant King’s Books offerings that are now such a part of my life, I tend to take them for granted.

Clearly King’s Books and the wonder of reading is on the collective South Puget Sound brain, and I’m excited to add my voice to the mix. So this piece is really about two things: an articulation of my too-often-unspoken King’s Books appreciation and a recommendation that you all dig in and explore all the activities King’s offers.

Here’s my position paper (to contribute to the ever-growing King’s Books field of study) on one quintessentially King’s Booksian opportunity that I think everyone should consider incorporating into their regular routine: a King’s Books book club.

Join a Book Club

Store cats Miko & Atticus make a cuddle puddle (Photo from the King's Books facebook page).

Never been part of a book club? Perhaps your concern with joining is that your particular literary interest may not be represented.

Well, you may be shocked and delighted to learn that such a concern is rendered obsolete by the sheer number of options King’s provides to the discerning citizen.

King’s Books oversees a significant roster of seven community-originated book clubs, none of which suffer from any Oprah influence.

What to Choose?

King’s Books launched its first book club, Banned Book Club, back in 2006. Now the grand dame of them all, you can check out their latest sensational selection here and meet up with the group at Tempest Lounge every third Tuesday.

The Classics Book Club may be a newcomer to the King’s Books roster, but this group has been meeting in Tacoma since 1994. Join them on second Wednesdays at King’s.

Since the spring of 2009, Graphic Novel Book Club has been meeting the second Monday of every month at 1022 South.

2011 was an explosion of book club creation. Now you can join any of these groups:

Vegan Book Club meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at King’s.
Spanish Language Book Club meets the last Saturday of every month at King’s.
Gleaning Book Club is on hiatus at the moment.
Capes & Cowls Book Club reads superhero comics and meets the fourth Monday of every month at King’s.
GLBT Book Club meets the second Saturday of every month at Tully’s, 764 Broadway.

If none of these options captivate you, no worries – you can start your own. If you’re interested in starting a book club or have an existing club that is interested in meeting at, or being affiliated with, King’s Bookstore, just email sweet pea.  Book Clubs get 15% off their featured book.

Why so Many Book Clubs?

Owner of King’s Books, sweet pea Flaherty, was happy to indulge my book club curiosity in this short interview:

sweet pea, King's Books' iconic owner, operates heavy machinery at the annual Wayzgoose festival.
sweet pea, King’s Books’ iconic owner, operates heavy machinery at the annual Wayzgoose festival.

Why do you think there was such an explosion in Book Club interest at the beginning of 2011?

I think it’s partially due to visibility and partially to serendipity. Whenever our book clubs get publicity, people approach us to either host or supply books for their clubs.

I coordinate three book clubs: Banned, Graphic Novel, and Capes & Cowls (the latter of which started in 2011). The other book clubs are coordinated by individuals. The two food-related book clubs (Vegan and Gleaning) grew out our other food-related events. Classics Book Club needed a new home after Borders closed. Our Spanish Language Book Club started after I talked to an interested customer at an event.

The newest book club, GLBT, allied with us because of our other book clubs. There are a couple of private book clubs that either get their books from us or meet at the store. I think people hunger for interesting real-life interactions about books and topics they’re passionate about.

Which club has the most committed core?

Our Banned Book Club is almost 6 years old. So that takes the store prize. Although, the Classics Book Club has been meeting in Tacoma since 1994, so they’re hardcore.

What book can you remember sparking the most debate/controversy/passion in conversation?

Push by Sapphire. We read that in Banned Book Club (before the movie ‘Precious’ came out). There were about 25 people (which is really too many), most with something to say. There have definitely been other books that people reacted vehemently to. If everyone loves a book, conversation gets boring. I like it better when it’s a 50/50 mix between love and hate.

How many do you think the book store could comfortably oversee?

A lot. The key factor is a coordinator who communicates with us so we can order books, make sure they’re in-print, and get publicity out (if it’s a public club). For hosting book clubs, it’s a lesser number. It depends on our store hours and staffing. Several of our book clubs meet elsewhere. So meeting in-store isn’t a given. Any book club allied with us gets 15% off the book club pick!

If you could start your dream book club, what would it be?

A feminist science fiction book club, for sure. If I ever have a little more time to read monthly, I’ll make that a reality. I ran the Shameless Hussies book club out of the feminist bookstore I worked at in Madison, WI. Our most provocative discussions were always around science fiction. There are so many great authors that are criminally underexposed and have written visionary works. My second dream book club would be African fiction.

What books stand out to you that you have discovered since the book clubs have been in existence?

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going has become one of my favorite young adult novels since we read it in Banned Book Club. I handsell that at the bookstore like crazy. Most of the graphic novels I had previously read. But I recently became obsessed with the series Pluto by Naoki Urasawa.

Is there an obvious gap in the book club offerings? Something you’ve been hearing from customers but hasn’t manifested yet?

We’ve been lackadaisically trying to get a dude book club going (Chuck Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, etc). I would love a nonfiction book club of some stripe (history, science, etc). A lot of our existing book clubs are fairly specific, so the more offerings the better.

What about kid/YA book clubs?

I talked to a friend about doing a Mother/Daughter book club. I would also love for a teen book club (fiction, manga, whatever) to meet at the store. The problem is finding a coordinator. Plus, keeping me out of the club since I read so much Young Adult fiction.

Anything else you want to share that I haven’t thought of?

Did I mention book clubs get 15% off their book club pick??

Books are the Best

There are many compelling reasons to join a book club. Wish you read more? Read too much all alone? Don’t know what to read? New in town? Don’t have a lot of friends? Don’t have friends that like what you like? Tired of your friends and want a whole new pack of literarily minded buddies? Book clubs can remedy any of these conundrums.

So consider throwing your two cents in at a book club: make some friends, discover something new, and let out your inner academic for an evening a month. I’m sure it’s good for you!

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About the Author

Co-Managing Editor at Post Defiance, Katy is a Tacoma writer and fundraiser. She works as a grantwriter and is a member of the Spaceworks Steering Committee. Follow her @katynicoud.



3 Responses to Book Clubs for All

  1. RR Anderson says:

    how about trashy romance book clubs for my mother-in-law?

  2. Stacey says:

    Feminist science fiction book club? Be still my heart! sweet pea, make it so!!!

  3. KAC says:

    I vote that sweet pea should start that Feminist Science Fiction Book Club.

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