Young or fully trained, online or in person, dozens of area book clubs offer their members literature and links.
Here are a few in La Jolla:
At the library
Katie Dunahoo hosts a book club that meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Monday of every month at the La Jolla/Riford Library at 7555 Draper Ave. The club is open to new members and is “democratic”, with the Book of the Year selection launched and voted on each August, Dunahoo said.
Dunahoo, who led the club for the last 10 of its more than 20 years, said the group eschews romantic and self-help genres, but are otherwise “omnivorous”.
Currently, 12 to 15 members attend regularly, she said, and although most live in La Jolla, the club attracts a diverse group of people from all over.
At the YMCA
Athena Miller “loosely” runs a book club at the Dan McKinney Family YMCA at 8355 Cliffridge Ave. which is open to everyone, regardless of YMCA membership. “I keep everyone on the same page,” she said.
Miller said the club, which meets at 12:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month, has been going for more than two decades.
She would like more members to join her. “More people make a better discussion,” Miller said.
A wide variety of genres are represented in the members’ selections, she said. “We all have different favorites,” offering the ability to read authors they might not typically read.
Anyone interested in joining one of the above book clubs can simply attend the next meeting, organizers said.
Docents and pensioners
For years, La Jollan Ken King ran a book club for current and former guides at Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve.
The club, which has about 20 members, focuses primarily on nature-focused books, although some fiction titles focus on science. Its monthly meetings are held on Zoom.
The books are “just chosen by consensus,” King said.
His wife, Sheryl King, runs a book club open to residents of their retirement community, White Sands. Topics range from trending non-fiction to politically oriented titles.
Ken King said the White Sands club has about 10 members and meets every two months on Zoom, or in person if members are comfortable.
Chat and chew
A group calling itself Chat & Chew has been meeting since 1993. It is made up largely of women whose children then of high school age in La Jolla participated in exchange programs from American Field Service.
Original member Lynn Knize said the club’s nine attendees meet monthly at a member’s home on a rotating schedule for lunch and book discussion.
Chat & Chew members vote on suggested books and usually end up with fiction, although non-fiction is selected occasionally.
Knize said new members are added as current members invite them.
Another group, called Scintillating Six, or Sin Six, has been meeting for 20 years and has read more than 100 books, mostly fiction, said member Judith Johnson.
The club of six women took turns meeting at the home of the member who proposed the current book for a book-themed dinner. The group has been meeting at a restaurant for lunch since the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson said.
Johnson said the tight-knit group came together through an affiliation with UC San Diego and will only meet if everyone is available. Women celebrate birthdays and more along the way.
“It’s really a friendship club that loves reading books together,” Johnson said.
UC San Diego Clubs
The UC San Diego Emeriti Association, a group of retired faculty, has a journal club that meets monthly.
The club has 12 regular attendees across multiple departments at UCSD, including health sciences, political science, literature and drama, and reads books “on anything deemed interesting,” said Roger Spragg, who helps run the club.
Usually, he says, that means non-fiction and history.
The group has been meeting on Zoom since the pandemic began, but Spragg said he looked forward to resuming in-person meetings at the UCSD Faculty Club on campus.
Also at UCSD, its retirement association, whose membership is open to any retired university employee, has a book club of about 130 members that meets monthly. Meetings have been held over Zoom for the past two years.
Members almost exclusively read fiction books. “Everyone brings some of their own background, their own area of interest,” said Suzan Cioffi, director of Retirement and Emeriti associations.
To help keep La Jollans fully booked with reading ideas, Warwick’s bookshop in The Village offers book suggestions and discounts to book club members who sign up there.
More than 70 local book clubs are currently registered with the store, said Warwick bookseller Mary Lee Delafield. Some of them have been around for 25 to 35 years. Most clubs are 90% female.
Every member of staff at Warwick has been or is in a book club, Delafield said, so “we’re certainly very good at suggesting titles that would be good for book clubs because frankly not all books are suitable to discussion”.
“Sometimes book clubs need a boost,” Delafield added. “I spoke to a book club about five years ago that had been the same group of women in La Jolla for 25 or 30 years and they just felt like their book selections were getting outdated.
“I just gave them a little lecture on the book and they left.” ◆