Name a genre, and Houston probably has a book club for you. We’ve rounded up a small selection of the coolest bookgroups in town to help you choose. Some are traditional, some give you a window into historic homes, some let you date the author, and some are totally niche.
For the low-level agoraphobe: Half Price Books Book Club
Reading: Girls by Emma Cline
If you don’t have time for monthly meetings, or just don’t want to talk to other people after a long day (we get it), believe it or not, there’s a reading for that. The Half Price Books Book Club is exclusively online, which means there is no in-person interaction. Instead, members answer thought-provoking questions via the only online comment section really worth reading. Twitter users can also comment on the book using the hashtag #hpbbookclub. There’s even an interactive poll with questions about the books.
For Serious Readers: Tough Broads Out at Night Book Club
Reading: This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell
This book club wins the most original title. For about 20 years, book lovers have gathered in the evenings at Blue Willow Bookstore to discuss contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and classics chosen by bookstore owner and book club manager Valerie Koehler. The day more your speed? Blue Willow’s Coffee Cake Book Club discusses similar books in the morning. Recent discussions have touched on deep topics such as mental health, families and bereavement, but it’s not always so serious. Koehler’s only suggestion? Read the entire book before coming to get the most out of the discussion.
For spoopy readers: Murder by the Book Discussion Group
Reading: I let you go by Claire Mackintosh and The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell
This club is the real deal. On Wednesday evenings, 20 to 30 people gather in the maze of shelves at Murder by the Book, one of the nation’s oldest mystery bookstores, for a discussion that can last up to two and a half hours. Members submit books that fit a monthly theme a few months in advance. While this month’s theme of suspense/thrillers is broad, others sound like oddly Netflix-specific categories, think “mysteries with a social conscience” or “holiday party.”
For Tree Lovers: The Year of Dangerous Reading
Reading: silent spring by Rachel Carson
Named after the TV series Years of living dangerously, this group focuses on climate change, particularly non-fiction political and environmental realism. Steve Stelzer, director of the Green Building Resource Center, says he himself had a year of dangerous reading before starting the club, which meets at the Central Library. The focus is not always on environmentalism – a previous discussion on Twenty-six seconds, a story of the shooting of the Kennedy assassination, centered around the court of public opinion and culture change. Past picks include hard-hitting reads like The new confessions of an economic hitman and The sixth extinction.
For the curious: Rienzi and Bayou Bend History Book Club
Reading: Jewelry: a secret story by Kathryn Casey
History buffs (or those who love luxury homes) alternate between two fine arts museums, the Houston, Bayou Bend and Rienzi House Museums, to discuss books on everything from the rise of colonialism and from trade to gardening and textile production. The books center on life in America and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, with Tom Standage and Andrea Wulf among favorite older authors. On-site educators facilitate discussions, which means you’re sure to learn a lot of historical information that wasn’t in the book.
For the budding detective: Katy Budget Books Mystery Matters Book Club
Reading: Possessed: The Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder by Kathryn Casey
If there’s a detective involved, Mystery Matters will read it. These readers love nothing more than a good whodunit, and they read mystery novels of all kinds, including police procedurals, cozies and, more recently, true crime. Mystery Matters coordinator Karla Hodde says the only rule is that it must always be in print. Mysteries not your thing? Check out the brunch book club for discussions of general fiction and women’s fiction — and, for extra incentive, donuts.
For fame lovers: Inprint Book Club
Reading: TBD (but probably something famous)
With the Margarett Root Brown Inprint Reading Series, anyone can attend a reading and interview with a famous author for just $5. Most authors come to promote a new version. The Inprint Book Club meets to discuss the author’s book a few weeks later. This club is ideal for people who want the chance to listen to the author’s comments on their work before discussing. Past readings include I am here by Jonathan Safran Foer and Lincoln at Bardo by George Saunders. Meetings resume in October, after the start of the series of readings.