I’m back in this space after a month of holidays.
I got an invitation just before I left to speak to the University Women’s Club’s mystery reading group in early December and it got me thinking about book clubs in general. I think Winnipeg has more book clubs per capita than any city in Canada. I’ve never belonged to one myself, but I have at least four friends who do and some of these clubs have been going for decades.
Unlike so many other human endevours, book clubs seem to have staying power. Someone decides to have a few friends over to discuss the books they’re reading over a glass of wine. They have a good time. The same friends meet again the next month at someone else’s house. Friends bring other friends. Before you know it, they’re meeting every month, they’ve agreed on a method for selecting books, a format for meetings, and everyone takes a turn hosting. Friendship and thoughtful conversation warm those cold winter nights.
I asked the Winnipeg Public Library if they could help me prove my hypothesis. But librarian Danielle Pilon says the library has no way of gathering statistics on book clubs because most of them are private and make their own arrangements. But Ms. Pilon did tell me this:
“The Library itself runs 19 reading clubs in various branches (http://winnipegpublibrary.wordpress.com/book-clubs/) and we also loan our collection of more than 250 adult Book Club Kits (http://wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/libraryservices/bookclubkits.asp) to private book clubs. Those kits circulated 833 times in 2013, and each of those checkouts should reflect at least one book club meeting.”
Quite impressive, considering that number represents only those book clubs that borrow books from the library. And it doesn’t take into account individual book club members who simply borrow that month’s selected book from the library.
What about club members who buy books? Check out my next post about the book clubs run out of the McNally Robinson Bookstore.