Fed up with your group's flaming out? Try these gatherings touted and hosted by some of TONY's favorite shops.
Fri Feb 17 2012
Illustration: Patrick McQuade
It's Saturday morning: Put your foggy mind to better use than explaining why you submitted to karaoke's mysterious sorcery last night. On the first Saturday of the month, staff members at Greenpoint's cherished independent bookstore lead discussions on paperback fiction, with occasional forays into nonfiction, graphic novels and young adult books. The second Saturday of the month is reserved for the classics, a genre this neighborhood bookshop holds dear. Past themes have included Russian novels (Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov and others), but the group's current focus is British fiction from the New York Review of Books classics list. Walk-ins are welcome at both groups, which usually comprise a decent amount of repeat book junkies. 126 Franklin St at Milton St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-383-0096, wordbrooklyn.com). Next fiction event: Woodsburner by John Pipkin on Sat 3 at noon. Next classics event: A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett on Mar 10 at noon.
McNally Jackson Books
Owner Sarah McNally leads the International Literature book club at this Soho belletristic oasis. Meetings occur on the first Monday of the month and are not for the casual reader; three to four sessions at a time are devoted to a chosen region's literature. Having polished off a quartet of Japanese books, the small, focused club is now tackling four months of Scandinavian novels, followed by a foray into African writers. On the last Friday of the month, staff member Javier Molea leads a Spanish book club which celebrates classic as well as emerging Spanish-language writers. Guest authors often attend the animated meetings, which are totalmente en Espaol and have been known to tumble into impromptu poetry slams. 52 Prince St between Lafayette and Mulberry Sts (212-274-1160, mcnallyjackson.com). Next International Literature event: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson on Mon 5 at 7pm. Next Spanish event: Trabajos del Reino by Yuri Herrera on Fri 24 at 7pm.
Ask Me About...
This is the literary support group that does not judge. Helmed by TONY Books editor Matthew Love, this young yet popular book club allows you to school up on iconic greats in a safe space with your fellow Twain and Austen neophytes. The first two meetings covered Joseph Heller's war novel Catch-22 and Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Literary-themed music and comedy, as well as free booze, help the medicine go down. Next up is the acclaimed Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary, with special guests such as novelist Michael Cunningham, book publicist Lauren Cerand and folk rocker Andrew Vladeck. To RSVP, e-mail email@example.com. McNally Jackson Books. Next event: Tue 28 at 7pm.
This independent book haven's club steers the spotlight away from best-sellers toward deserving lesser-known writers. Facilitated by staff member Natalie Peart, the fiction group spent last year focused on local New York authors. It even lassoed in several writers to discuss picks like Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor and Kate Christensen's The Great Man. This year's theme is "prizewinners," with each month devoted to the recipient of a different literary award. Rafael Yglefias's LA Times Book Prize--winning A Happy Marriage is the topic of the next roundtable discussion, which takes place on the third Tuesday of the month. 686 Fulton St at S Portland Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-246-0200, greenlightbookstore.com). Next event: Tue 21 at 7:30pm.
Barnes & Noble
The bookshop's Upper East Side location offers multiple book groups. For the truly courageous, brave the Modernist Irish epic on the second Tuesday of every month from noon till 2pm with scholars of James Joyce's Ulysses. Sate your Victorian appetite with the Dickens group, which meets on the second Saturday of every month from 1 to 4pm; last year the group read David Copperfield and this year the choice is Oliver Twist. For a more multifarious approach, try the monthly Wednesday (next event: Sunset Park by Paul Auster on Mar 21 at 7pm) or Friday (next event: Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm on Fri 24 at 7pm) evening groups. The reading material, chosen by members, often includes burgeoning young fiction writers. 150 E 86th St between Lexington and Third Aves; 212-369-2180, bn.com