Book Clubs: Read All About It!

Literary Lovers unite over the pages of a few good books

The time may be perfect for a little adventure, an escape from the ordinary, or a way to develop new friendships. How about a little relaxation, a trip to a faraway place or a shot at experiencing something you might not otherwise? You can do this all without leaving the comfort of a couch or an easy chair.

These are just some of the reasons why local women say they love opening a new book and then chatting all about it with their fellow book club members.

With temperatures dropping and the afternoon sunlight fading, now is a great time to curl up with a book by the fire, with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, or with a favorite chilly weather libation. Not sure what to read? You’re in luck. A few of the local book club stalwarts have some suggestions for your next fall reading adventure.

World War II is the backdrop for a couple of good reads picked by Nan LeVar. The All Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg is Nan’s first pick. She’s a member of not one, not two, but three different book clubs. She says if you enjoy historical novels then this is the book for you. It deals with the WASPS, the women pilots who flew and delivered newly manufactured planes during the war. Sprinkled in among the historical references sits a bit of humor that’s sure to bring a smile or two to your face.

The relationship between two sisters in war-torn France is the focus of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This is another historical novel that explores what some do in moments of great challenge.

Last, but not least, Nan suggests opening up a classic in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, saying it’s such an important American classic. Now may be the perfect time to read or re-read it. After you’re done, she suggests reading Go Set a Watchman, Lee’s recently released novel that draws a different, more complex portrait of Atticus Finch.

Jennifer Wilke heads up the LitCentric Book Club at the Billings Public Library. She says her group reads the books we normally wouldn’t pick up on our own. Her recommendation is The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s exciting and compulsively readable, unlike a lot of pure science fiction. If you like Michael Crichton, you’ll probably love this book.

Help for the Haunted by John Searle is another suggestions from Jennifer. She calls it a little creepy and a little thrilling with a bit of mystery thrown in. It’s not only a coming of age story but it is beautiful and sad at the same time. Yes, it’s one that’s difficult to put a label on.
More contemporary, mainstream fiction suggestions come from Shelby Britton and the PopLit Book Club, a small group of readers that just started gathering this May. Shelby recommends 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, a compelling and heavy best seller from 2007 dealing with teen suicide.
Another suggestion from Shelby’s club is The Fault is in Our Stars by John Green. You might have seen the movie starring Shailene Woodley, but like most movies based on books, this novel which chronicles the lives of two teen cancer patients, is so much better. It’s a tear jerker that explores life, love and death.



With some solid suggestions on what page-turners might be a good fit for your fall, why not grab a group to enjoy your next read with? If you’d like to start your own book club, Jennifer suggests using social media to look for others interested in talking about good books.

Not into social media? There are still places where you can put up a flyer like book stores, or coffee shops like Off the Leaf. The Billings Public Library is also very good about posting times and places for area book clubs on their website. The beautiful thing about book clubs is that each member is sure to have their own favorite genre, meaning you’ll likely pick up and read a book that you might not otherwise have read. Plan on meeting once a month so that members have time to dive into the book and then follow it all up with a discussion at a coffee shop, the library or even a local book store. Just make sure you reserve space at one of these hot spots to ensure you have a comfy place to chat it up. Public places also make it easy for new members to join.

Instead of just reading the latest title, Jennifer suggests trying to mix it up with your members. Why not try to schedule a Skype meeting with the book’s author? Shelby’s PopLit Book Club really tries to invest in each story.  When the group read 13 Reasons Why, they got in touch with those involved in suicide prevention efforts.

Your book club will need a leader, someone who has member contact information in case the meeting needs to be cancelled. There’s also the discussion leader who can lead or bring the group back to topic if things get sidetracked.

How should your club choose the books? Nan says some groups go by consensus, with everyone having the opportunity to suggest a few books and why. Or, other clubs allow each member to have a turn choosing the next book. Keep in mind, not everyone will love every book. That’s the beauty of the discussion. It gives readers an opportunity to talk about what they did and didn’t love about a particular selection. It’s a great jumping off point for discussion. At the end, why not rate the book to wrap things up?

Over and above the discussion, relax and have fun. Reading is about taking time to escape to another time or place with the book’s voice leading you into uncharted territory. Book clubs allow you to do all of this with a bit of company.


By The Book: Join the club & pick up a good read

Gold Advantage: Group meets the last Monday of the month September through May (except for December) at 1:45 PM at the Billings Community Center. Accepts new members.

: Group meets the last Tuesday night of each month at Billings Public Library. Accepts new members.

Mystery Book Club: Meets the second Tuesday night each month at 7 PM at Barnes and Noble. Inquire about joining.

Noble Book Club: Meets the third Wednesday of each month at 7 PM at Barnes and Noble. Inquire about joining.

PopLit Book Club: Meets the second Wednesday each month at 7 PM at Off the Leaf and accepts new members.

Turning the Page Book Club:  Meets the fourth Wednesday each month at 7 PM at the Billings Public Library and accepts new members.


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