This group reads widely across the genre, enjoying romances that dip into science fiction, historical fiction, and westerns—they also discuss two books a month. They have a month devoted to young adult and new adult romances, where they’ve had their most heated discussions—they say male teen angst can sometimes look like misogyny. Watch out for these cats! They’re serious thinkers and serious readers.
Years of Operation: 5
Leaders: Jennifer Lohmann
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Tell us a little about your book group.
The Romance Lovers Book Club is a little over five years old. It started when the Southwest Regional Library reopened after renovation and Jennifer Lohmann (2010 RWA Librarian of the Year and a romance author) had a library location and position to run a book club for fans of the romance genre. She posted the book club on Meetup.com and made flyers for the library. Our first book was Smooth Talking Stranger, by Lisa Kleypas. We had six people at the first meeting, five of whom still attend regularly.
About six months into the group’s existence, we started reading two books a month, all around a theme. These are always romance novels (occasionally a science fiction, mystery, or other book with strong romantic elements). Reading widely across the genre has introduced us to lots of new authors and many of us buy the rest of the books in a series after reading one for the book club.
We are a great example
of how wonderful the romance community is.
We are a lively, supportive group of women (and occasionally men) who chat about the books, movies, sometimes happenings around town, our lives, and more. We also arrange outings to movies and other things that strike the group’s fancy. We also have a book swap.
When, where, and how often do you meet?
We meet at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Southwest Regional Library in Durham, North Carolina.
How does your group make its reading selections?
Jennifer picks out all of the books. A few times a year, we will discuss themes the group would like to read and members offer up suggestions. They often include non-British historicals, Christmas novels, science fiction romances, secretary tropes, and Westerns. Jennifer queries NoveList and Twitter for book suggestions, she checks reviews and book availability (books have to be available for the library to purchase and have to be in print) and picks books that fit the theme.
Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?
We probably most liked Firelight, by Kristen Callihan.
Which is the most divisive book your group has read?
That was probably collectively the YA month, when we read Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry and Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles. YA and new adult books are often divisive for us, with some readers really liking the over-the-top alpha hero and some readers hating him. Thanks to the additional angst that many YA and NA characters have, we get a very lively discussion about feminism and misogyny and where the line between “interested” man ends and “overly pushy” man begins. Motorcycle club romances often induce a similarly lively discussion.
How do your group discussions work?
There isn’t really one leader of the book discussion. Generally, Jennifer starts off the discussion for one of the books and everyone chimes in. If the discussion gets too loud and separated into too many side discussions, Jennifer will bring the group back together with a question. The group members are fantastic about including new members in the discussion and giving backstory when our discussion veers off into comparisons of past groups.
What is your group most looking forward to reading this next year?
We’re screening the documentary about the romance community, Love Between the Covers, [click here for a sneak peek of the documentary] and everyone is looking forward to that. We are a great example of how wonderful the romance community is.
What is the best piece of advice you’d give a group that is just getting started?
Start a romance book club! Romance is a such a popular genre and there aren’t enough romance book clubs out there.
Are you looking for new members?
You can find us at http://www.meetup.com/Romance-Lovers-Book-Club/
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