Brooklyn’s WORD bookstore is a vital part of the New York City literary landscape. Known for its innovative events and a carefully curated book collection that varies from children’s picture books to cookbooks to literary fiction, this store in the Greenpoint neighborhood is also home to several lively book clubs.
Upcoming book club meetings at WORD:
We interviewed event coordinator Jenn Northington and former store manager Stephanie Anderson about the WORD book club experience.
What is the importance of book clubs?
We don’t always get time to gush (or rant) about books with other readers, so book clubs are a great way to carve some out.
Were you always a book club person?
Neither of us has ever been in a book group outside of the store, actually.
What made you start up a club at WORD?
It’s something Christine started when the store first opened, and we’ve been doing it ever since. It’s a cool opportunity to not only get the aforementioned rant/rave time, but to introduce customers to each other. It also helps us promote books that we love, that people might not pick up otherwise.
How many book clubs does WORD host?
Right now, there are four groups that meet at WORD. Two (our Book Group and Classics Book Group) are led by staff, and two (the Music Writing and Wodehouse book groups) are led by neighborhood folks/friends of the store.
What do you like best about hosting?
It’s really fun to hear everyone’s thoughts on a book — opinions often differ wildly, and both of us have been talking into loving a book more by club members. There are always surprises!
What can people expect when they come to your meetings?
Good conversation, well-read comrades, and often pastries!
Are there perks to joining your groups? (i.e. discounts?)
All our book group picks are 10% off the month leading up to their discussion.
What was the last book that went over well?
We had a great discussion about The Lifespan of a Fact; not everyone liked it, by a longshot, but there were so many different angles to examine it from, and everyone had a different take on the book’s message and intention.
Have any books not been a hit with the club? How do those conversations differ?
Actually, when people don’t like a book we have more to talk about it. There’s only so many different ways you can say “I loved it!,” but there are a million different ways to pick apart something you didn’t like.
How do you decide what to read next?
There is no method to our madness. Sometimes we literally walk around the bookstore looking at the shelves, asking each other “What about this one?” We do also have a list of things that are coming out in paperback, or things the groups have expressed interest in, but it’s often mere whim. Within the whims, we try to make sure we have an even distribution of genre, male vs. female authors, foreign authors, independent presses and big publishers, so that people get to pick up things they might otherwise overlook.