16 June 2023

A new chapter: Group to bring South Coast book clubs together

| Katrina Condie
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Book clubs are being invited to join a new South Coast group. Photo: South Coast Book Clubs/Facebook.

If you’ve been part of a book club, you’ll know that talking about the book often takes a back seat to those deep real-life discussions about family, kids, aging parents and health.

Meeting once a month for coffee (or a glass of red) and a chat about the latest best seller, or classic novel, can give birth to friendships that last a lifetime. Deep connections form when you let down your barriers and broach the sensitive topics often raised in books.

A new organisation has been formed in an effort to bring book clubs together on the South Coast, and to encourage the formation of new groups in the region.

South Coast Book Clubs will be officially launched at a special 6:15 pm screening of Book Club: The Next Chapter – the romantic comedy sequel to Book Club – at Arcadia Cinemas in Ulladulla on 29 May.

Group treasurer Monique Carson said South Coast Book Clubs had transitioned from a previous group that was part of the former Friends Of Milton Library a few years back.

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After many clubs fell by the wayside during COVID-19, she expects many of the previous library book clubs to join the revitalised organisation, and hopes to have around 15 groups by the end of the year.

The idea is to have a number of book clubs that share communal book sets which come complete with discussion topics and author notes.

Each club receives a set of 10 books per month and the sets are rotated among the groups in the region.

Monique hopes the concept will take off in Milton-Ulladulla before expanding to other communities such as Batemans Bay and Nowra. The group purchases the book sets and, once each club has read them all, they can be swapped with groups in nearby towns.

The cost for each book club with 10 members is $400 per year, which is $40 per member. Membership entitles each club to 11 book sets – the November set is kept for two months, allowing time for a relaxing holiday read!

The book sharing concept is not new, and is popular in city areas where different suburbs buy and swap book sets, reducing the cost for members.

Monique said being part of a book club gave people a reason to get out of the house once a month and socialise with friends over a cuppa and good discussion.

“Ten people have an opportunity to read the same book and chat about the book – or whatever is important in their life at the time,” she said.

“Book clubs are a lovely way to connect with people that you either know or don’t know.

“It’s a great way of sitting in a circle listening to others and sharing ideas and different perspectives on the book, as well as life. It’s interesting some of the topics that emerge. Books can promote some really quality conversation.”

Monique said she had been in book clubs with friends she had known for a long time who, during the book discussions, disclosed losing children, or struggles they were facing with aging parents.

“Book clubs pave the way for so many important discussions, and people really open up,” she said.

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Readers come and go from book clubs until they find their fit. They’re also a great way for new residents to make friends, with gatherings held in clubs, cafes, community rooms and often people’s homes.

Monique was part of a book club that met while their kids were playing basketball. It was a case of busy mums multitasking and getting together when they could.

She said, once the South Coast group was up and running, the call would go out for other communities to join.

“We’re getting everything set up in Ulladulla first, but we hope to expand and will be happy to share our model with groups in other communities,” she added.

Existing book clubs are welcome to join, or individual readers can contact the group and be added to a club or might want to form a new one.

Tickets for the launch, which includes bubbles and cheese, are $15 and available here or from the cinema.

To keep up to date with the progress of South Coast Book Clubs, follow their Facebook page. A website is under construction.

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