New York book clubs, catching up to L.A., discover bars

Cocktails go well with books. Who knew?
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
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Book clubs can meet up in public places that serve alcohol, New Yorkers discover. Who knew?

Well, plenty of people, particularly those who attend book clubs in bars in L.A.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported on four book clubs in New York and New Jersey that meet in bars and restaurants.

That kind of thing can be found in Los Angeles too. Book club maven Julie Robinson hosts them at Bar Noir at Maison 140 and the Hotel Bel Air. One focuses on the works of Jane Austen; another, the Drop in Book Group, is $35 and has discussed Marisa Silver’s “Mary Coin,” Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Lowland” and “Provence, 1970” with author Luke Barr.


Barr is making the book club rounds; the Wall Street Journal photographed him reading from “Provence, 1970” at Calliope, a restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, for its story. It was the first meeting of the Calliope book club, held in conjunction with independent bookstore McNally Jackson.

Although New York book clubs often seek a large enough space for a group of readers, Los Angeles book clubs that meet in public seem to be more about community -- community that sometimes likes to be rowdy.

A prime example is the Spare Room Book Club, held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Spare Room bar. “This is not your Mom’s book club,” organizer Diana Gettinger told the LA Weekly in August. “We drink. It’s noisy.”

Spare Room co-owner Med Abrous added, “The whole concept behind the Spare Room is based on social interaction. It’s about bringing groups of people together and getting them off their phones.”

The Spare Room Book Club’s next book is Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel “The Goldfinch” in January; a previous book was “Pacific” by Tom Drury. Participants who purchase the club’s selections from Skylight Books in Los Feliz get 15% off. Admittance to the book club is free, but drinking is encouraged.



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