Roadtest: Where to get booked

Bookworms around the Inner West will be poking their noses out of their novels to enjoy an author talk or two as the Sydney Writers’ Festival comes to town from May 19 – 25. In honour of all the fabulous writers in our midst, we’ve compiled a list of notable book clubs in the area (and discovered that the humble hardback is not as dead as some of you might think).

The Inner West Book Club

Bronwyn started organising book club ‘meet-ups’ back in 2009 and the book club now has a great variety of members that keep in touch via Meetup.com and gather at the Warren View, Stanmore, every month (usually on the last Thursday). It’s a casual group, with some members coming along every month while others only attend to discuss certain books of interest – generally there’s a gathering of 10 to 20 people at each meeting. Of course, like any good book club, conversation always starts off around the reading of the month but then drifts onto other topics as well. A friendly group where books are suggested by the people at the end of each meeting.

The Newtown Book Club

These guys describe themselves as ‘open-minded’ and ‘eclectic’ individuals who meet up for monthly drinks and chats. They are not your average book club though; they like to keep things interesting by including plays, novels and biographies on their reading list. They also attend readings and theatre productions occasionally and will be holding a special meet-up at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. They are active online and very popular; they even had a waitlist for their March meeting! Organiser Rebecca Burdick says she started the club on a whim with a friend after going to another book club and finding no one actually talked about books! “We decided to start one of our own for bookish souls like ourselves. Two years later and we have more than 300 members, with about 25-30 people attending each month,” she says. Register at www.facebook.com/NewtownBookClub.

The Balmain Institute

Ok so BI is not really a book club by definition but they do have book launches every year as well as the occasional live reading from local authors and are proud to be hosting the first International Historical Fiction Conference for Australasia next year (to be held March 19th-21st, in Balmain Town Hall Meeting Room, www.hnsa.org.au). Membership will cost you $20p.a, and you will receive a newsletter about events, invitations, free entry to lectures, Q&As, forums and the like – always with wine and snacks. For more info visit www.facebook.com/balmain.institute.

Tuesday Blue Book Group

This group meet at the Balmain Library on the third Tuesday of each month at 2pm for a coffee, tea or a glass of wine, and a good in-depth chat about the month’s book. They are a super-organised crew who have their schedule of monthly books already set for the year to come, featuring pieces like The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin and The Turning by Tim Winton. For those who can’t meet during the day, there is also an Evening Book Club at Balmain Library who get together on the second Tuesday of each month at 6.30pm.