In this summer’s romantic comedy “Book Club,” a group of older women is inspired to take a shot at dating – and even love – after reading the erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
But you don’t have to be looking for romance, of any kind, in a book or in real life to fall in love with the written word and share in that passion among friends.
Whether or not the movie has or will inspire more book clubs remains to be seen, but area literature aficionados said they’ve seen an uptick in El Paso reading groups where people discuss everything from the season’s sizzling favorites to timeless classics.
And the Sun City is not alone.
A national survey conducted by bookbrowse.com showed there was an increase in book club participation from 33 percent to 57 percent among its respondents between 2004 and 2015.
Regardless of who hosts or who attends, one of the biggest appeals of book clubs is that they get people to pick up books they might not have otherwise considered.
Among the area reading groups that promote their events on social media are Collective Page Book Club and the El Paso French Language Meet-Up, which meets weekly and reads books in French.
Here’s a round-up of some more formal book clubs around El Paso:
Libre’s Loose Leaf Book Club
If you’re interested in inspiring nonfiction, Libre’s Loose Leaf Book Club promotes “faith, family, education and economic prosperity,” Karla Sierra said. The club is sponsored by the area nonprofit Libre Institute.
For that reason, the book club discusses a chapter of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Outliers” each week.
“The discussion focuses on the different factors that make people successful, from culture to opportunities to individual drive,” Sierra said, adding that it also examines through this lens how immigrants have contributed to the United States.
All events are open to the public and the first five people to RSVP will get a copy of the book, and the first 30 people will get a drink on the house, she said.
The club meets at the Tea Spout, 3233 N. Mesa, from 2-3:30 p.m. Fridays.
Mama Bravo’s Book and Social Hour
John Byrd, who runs Cinco Puntos Press with his wife, Lee, hosts Mama Bravo’s Book and Social Hour for El Paso book fans to hear talented writers read from their works.
The series takes place at different places around the city and features authors across a variety of mediums, including nonfiction, memoir and fiction, and hosts events for young readers. Typically, guest writers in the early stages of their careers open the evening, reading for 30-40 minutes.
“It’s an expression and celebration of our love for books,” Byrd said.
The next Mama Bravo event is a reading by Phil Connors and is planned for September.
Details will be announced later, but more information can be found @lamamabravo on Twitter and Facebook. The events are free but attendees are encouraged to buy a drink.
Victorian Sci-Fi Book Club
There are also area book clubs that aim to take readers to more fantastical places – literally and figuratively.
The historic Magoffin Home hosts the Victorian Sci-Fi Book Club, where members read and discuss a masterpiece of early science fiction, such as novels by H.G. Wells. The fiction was popular entertainment during the early time of the Magoffin family, whose Mexican-born patriarch first came to El Paso in the 1850s.
“Many people are surprised that sci-fi is that old,” said Jeff Harris, the Magoffin Home site manager.
“These books are the origin of the genre,” he said, and reflect the era’s changing technological times.
The club meets at the Magoffin Home, 1120 Magoffin, at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month.
A superfan of graphic novels, El Pasoan Danny Martinez put together Graphic Exposition in February to encourage discussions in which he wanted to participate.
Graphic novels are complex stories about much more than superheroes or saving the world, Martinez said, and the group’s selections reflect that diversity.
Jeff Lemire’s “The Underwater Welder” is about fatherhood and a mysterious discovery at the bottom of the sea, he said, while “God Country” by Texas author Donny Cates is about living with Alzheimer’s and vengeful gods.
“Everybody is welcome to join,” Martinez said. “There’s something available for everybody. You don’t need to know about comics to have a good time.”
The group meets once a month at Lost Dog Comics, 627 Sims Dr. East, Suite F. For more information, call 915-444-8314 or visit http://lost-dog-comics.business.site
Barnes & Noble
The big-box bookstore Barnes and Noble took recently formed a reading club in El Paso, and noting that membership is predominantly female, kicked it off with Meg Wolitzer’s novel “The Female Persuasion” in May.
The community business development manager for Barnes & Noble Sunland Park, Francesca Moore, said Wolizter’s book “focuses on the relationship between a young woman and the dynamic feminist icon who becomes her friend and mentor … and engages readers in very timely discussion of topics of gender, power and identity.”
The next Barnes & Noble book club selection has not yet been determined, but a selection and meeting date are in the works.
Readers will be treated to an interesting selection, as well as a cup of coffee or tea.
“I think there is something really comforting about curling up in a cozy chair with a good book and a delicious, warm cup of coffee; I know that is what I personally consider paradise,” Moore said. “There’s also the added bonus that the caffeine will keep you up when you can’t put that new book down.”
Information: 915-581-5353 or stores.barnesandnoble.com/store/2634