On a ship bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, religious renegade Anne Hutchinson founded what might count as the very first American book club: a group of English women, disgruntled at being shut out of discussions, met to analyze the weekly sermons. In the centuries since, book clubs have been vehicles for many kinds of concerns; but always, they are efforts to set up a community within a landscape, to embrace the social dimension of reading, to challenge us to make reading and thinking an intrinsic part of our friendships.
Seattle has the lucky problem of being flooded with book clubs. They’re at nearly every independent bookstore and library branch you can name, and many come tailor-made to readers’ interests: there’s the 21st Century Science Fiction Book Club at Ada’s Technical Books; the art aficionado’s book club at the SAM; the singer-songwriter’s Bushwick Book Club. There’s even the Sorrento Silent Reading Party for those who’d like to forgo the talking altogether.
But private book clubs are harder to learn about. Their proceedings happen behind closed doors, in living rooms, basements, and backyards, between friends, colleagues, neighbors. And yet, they’re a valuable part of Seattle’s literary community: even the most tight-knit book clubs stimulate local conversations. They influence which books get passed from hand to hand. Many have been attending SAL events for years.
To hear more about them, Sonder is kicking off a “Book Club Spotlight” series, interviewing book clubs around Seattle, finding out who they’re reading, their involvement with SAL, and to give them the chance to ask SAL authors their questions. Our first Book Club Spotlight is on a reading group who meet in one another’s houses in the North Seattle area and in West Seattle. The ten members—Jennifer, Ann, Karen E., Karen R., Lindsay, Toddy, Helen, Kristiana, Mary, and Kristen—were kind enough to share their favorite selections, plus a great question for Ann Patchett… Read more…