Get to Know the International Book Club


The International Book Club reads books by international authors, although they occasionally throw in an American title if the book has an international theme. These lovely ladies enjoy meeting at a local wine bar in sunny Lakeland Florida, where they enjoy drinking as they discuss. All members actively contribute book recommendations.

International Book Group

Leader: Barbara Stampfl

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Tell us a little about your book group.

I used to own an independent book store which started an International Book Club. When the store closed in 1999 we continued the book club in member’s homes. We mostly read international authors, however, once in a while we throw in American authors if the titles have an international theme.

When, where, and how often do you meet?

We meet once a month and about a year ago decided to forgo taking turns in member’s homes and meet at a local wine bar. We enjoy imbibing as we talk!

Bel CantoHow does your group make its reading selections?

Everyone is open to suggesting titles. Our members are voracious readers. I, as a librarian, get title suggestions from library journals as well. I also pick up lists in different independent books stores during my travels.

Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?

We definitely all enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See.

Which is the most divisive book your group has read?

Surprisingly, Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett was not a unanimous like. Some members felt that the group of hostages would not have reacted as they did. This led to an interesting discussion.

How do your group discussions work?

We go round-robin and tell what we liked and disliked. I usually do some author research which I contribute and other members sometimes get on the web to find things out.

AmsterdamWhat is your group most looking forward to reading this next year?

Future titles which everyone was excited about reading include Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan and Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi which we plan to simultaneously read with Lolita.

What is the best piece of advice you’d give a group that is just getting started?

Don’t add too many people at one time. A good group for discussion I think should be no more than 10 people. Be flexible and experiment as to when is a good time for everyone to meet and be sure to involve all members in choosing titles.

Are you looking for new members?

Unfortunately, we are not interested in adding members at this time as we have 10 members and are going strong.

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About the Author:

Sarah Grant is the Marketing Associate for Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Grant.

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