Better Read Than Dead: Our Book Club Stories

Happy Book Birthday to PERMANENTLY BOOKED by our own Lisa Q. Mathews! In Book #2 of The Ladies Smythe & Westin series, odd-couple co-sleuths Summer and Dorothy start a book club to lure the killer of a dedicated librarian. To celebrate its release, we’re sharing our own book club experiences, which thankfully don’t involve murder!

 Lisa Q. Mathews

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Not long after I moved to my small New Hampshire town, our local library (located in an old Victorian mansion), announced the start-up of a book club. They also planned to show the movie version of each month’s selection directly following the literary discourse. I couldn’t wait. Finally, I’d belong to an official book club! Our first book was The Help, and about twenty women showed up. Not many had read the book, but that was okay. The librarian made buckets of popcorn and set out cookies and lemonade (no alcohol allowed in the public library). The next month’s selection was Water for Elephants, and five or six people made it to the meeting in time for the movie. By the third book (Shanghai Girls), no movie. Just me and the librarian and a whole lot of extra popcorn. Oh well.

Ellen Byron


I’ve always been nervous about book clubs. Someone once posed this interesting theoretical question to me: do you listen or wait to talk? I’ve always been afraid that a book club would be a collection of the latter – including me! The concept also pushes my ADD buttons. I worry that I’d be that annoying person who’s just there for the free wine and cheese, and is always checking her phone because she’s unable to sit and listen to other people talk for a couple of hours. But I was recently invited to join a book club that I’m excited about. My alma mater, Newcomb College (now part of Tulane University), has created the Newcomb Alumnae Book Club, and a chapter recently began about an hour away from me. I’m thinking it might be worth the journey to combine reading and chatting with meeting fellow alums. I’ll just have to lay off the wine so I can make the drive home!

Kellye Garrett


As much as I love books and (in my younger days, at least) love clubs, I have to admit that I have never had the pleasure of being in an actual book club. The fact is that I just don’t think I’m cool enough. You see, my aunt—one of my role models on what it means to be an amazing grown-up—has been with her book club for 20 years. Yes, you read that right. Twenty! Years! Their book club is old enough to drive a car, vote for the next president of the United States and, perhaps most importantly, know exactly where to find the best fake ID to get into the 21-and-over clubs. That is amazing. They recently all went on vacation together to a charming bed and breakfast like the one in Ellen’s Cajun Country mysteries to celebrate. They went to the spa, had amazing dinners and, yes, even discussed their latest book.


Marla Cooper

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When I first moved to San Francisco, a friend invited me to join her book club. Excited to make new friends, I read the book, eagerly anticipating a lively discussion. What’s more, I loved the book! I couldn’t wait to talk about it with my new BFFs. So I arrived at some girl’s apartment at the appointed date and time, and found a pitcher of margaritas waiting. We had some snacks, everyone talked about what had happened since their last book club meeting, and the hostess made another batch of margaritas.

I occasionally snuck a peek at my watch as I patiently waited for the chitty chat to end and the book club to begin. After a couple of hours of smiling politely while I listened to them talk about their boyfriends and their terrible bosses, there was a break in the conversation. I said, “So, the book….” Of course—and I’m sure you can see where this is headed—they stared at me in confusion. “Oh,” said the hostess. “You didn’t actually read it, did you?” I’ve been told that this exact scenario played out in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, but I swear I didn’t just borrow their plot line! My only question is, why did they bother picking a book? Why not just call it Margarita Club?


Readers, have you ever been in a book club? How did it go?

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