The Olympia Timberland Regional Library’s newest book club lets readers be literary without entering the library.
Instead, the group gathers on the first Tuesday of the month at Obsidian, a cafe, bar and — as Google sums it up — “offbeat hangout” downtown.
“It’s outside-the-walls-of-the library thinking,” said librarian Ally Mackey, who organized the club. “We’re not waiting for people to come to us; we’re going where they are.”
If having a library book club in a local business is a novel idea, having one outside the library is not. The Olympia library has held a book club in the Olympia Senior Center for the past decade.
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But the new club aims at a decidedly different demographic.
It’s open to all ages, but the library wanted to offer something that might appeal to people in their 20s and 30s and would fit the schedules of people who work or attend school. The library’s other book clubs — whether in or out of the library — happen at midday.
This open book club invites you to hang out and chat with a cup of coffee, a kombucha, a cocktail — or even a waffle. (There’s a vegan waffle and a gluten-free one, too.)
“I tried to think about a book club that I would want to go to,” said Mackey, who is 27. “For me personally, the meeting room here at the library is a little stuffy. I think people my age feel more comfortable at a coffee shop.”
And Obsidian was her top choice, she said.
“It has really good coffee and tea, and a bar,” Mackey said. “I didn’t want it to just be a bar, and it also has food, so it’s the perfect balance of something for everyone.”
“Meeting at Obsidian makes it feel a lot more casual, like friends meeting up to talk about books,” said Adina Burstein, 28, who attends the club regularly. “It’s just really cozy and comfortable.”
A quiet space is probably the main advantage to meeting in the library. After the club met once in the main area of Obsidian, Mackey switched it to the cafe’s back room, a space also used for concerts and other events.
Meeting in a cafe/bar, though, opens up lots of possibilities — and not just when it comes to food and beverages.
“It is such a good environment to keep hanging out,” Burstein said. “I met someone at the book club last time, and after the book club was over, we just stayed at Obsidian, got a couple more drinks and hung out. That was really cool.”
And compared to many others, this book club really does invite people to just hang out and relax. There’s no need to read a certain book, for one thing.
Instead, discussions are organized around a theme, and those who attend are invited to read and talk about any book that fits that theme — whether or not they’ve read it within the past month.
Tuesday’s theme is “The Ocean.”
“Our last theme was ‘End Times,’ so a lot of people read dystopian novels but you could also do read nonfiction, like about climate change,” Mackey said, “and someone interpreted it a completely different way and read ‘Being Mortal,’ which is about death and dying.
“It’s not a rigid rule type of group,” she said, adding that attendees are even welcome to talk about books that don’t fit the theme.
“Conversations flow. It just works out.”
Open Book Club
What: This book club with a twist invites readers to talk about any book they’ve read that fits a broad theme.
When: 8-9:15 p.m. Tuesday, and the first Tuesday of each month.
Where: Obsidian, 414 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia.
Upcoming themes: Tuesday’s theme is “The Ocean,” and for Feb. 2, the theme will be “Short Stories.”
Page Turners Book Discussion
What: This traditional book club is conveniently located for senior citizens.
When: 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the first Tuesday of each month.
Where: Olympia Senior Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia.
Upcoming books: Tuesday, the group will discuss “Birds of Prey,” by J.A. Jance. Feb. 2, the book is “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” by Jeanette Winterson.
information: 360-586-6181 or trl.org.