By Kelly Neufeld
“Give me books, fruit, French wine, fine weather and a little music…” John Keats
When three friends in Ontario, Canada wanted a regular excuse to get out of the house they decided to start a book club. Perry Jongsma, Pat Maaten and Kathleen Mundy had never been in a book club but shared a love of books. Started in September 2001, their simple idea has grown over the years into a dedicated group of women who call themselves the Giller Girls or GGs for short. While they do have a book to read each month they have expanded their format to include movie nights, Christmas parties and even weekend excursions. During their outings they found people were interested in knowing more about their unconventional book club so they decided to write a guidebook to the ultimate book club called Reading Between the Wines.
Over the years the Giller Girls have perfected their monthly meetings. The host of the evening provides the wine and appetizers which are usually inspired by the book they are discussing that night. They chat and eat then start discussing the books. The questions range from “Could you leave your life behind and move away on your own for one year?” (Without Reservations) to “Is it always possible to forgive someone who has betrayed you?” (Atonement) The person who picked the book (last month’s host) leads the discussion. Members joke that the meetings end when the wine runs out.
The host also has the responsibility to pick next months book and buys a copy for everyone. In order to maintain an element of surprise the books are often wrapped in a way that hints at the package contents but keeps people guessing. For example, when the host picked Under the Tuscan Sun, she wrapped it in an Italian language newspaper and tied it like a parcel with a red string.
In their beautifully designed book they share their story on how their club was started and detail their favorite book club nights and excursions. They then give you a 12 step guide to starting a book club, a 12 step hosting guide and a 20 step getaway blueprint.
If you’re having trouble coming up with an interesting book to read for your own club you can read their reviews on the 60 books they’ve read over their years. They rank each book on a scale of 1-5 wine glasses. They also give more detailed information on their top 13 book choices including why they picked that particular book and an example of a discussion question.
While the original Giller Girls bookclub was meant as an evening out it became much more than that. The GG Passport Pledge explains that “There is something sacred about a girl’s inner circle of friendships. This weekend promises to nurture honesty, strength and trust, and to bestow a lifetime of original and cherished moments on our GG sisters.”
They wrote Reading Between the Wines because they wanted to encourage “other women to nurture existing friendships and to embrace new ones.” Their book club made them prioritize time with friends and taught them they didn’t need to justify their night out. Whether you read a self-help novel, a chick lit book, or a biography you learn something new and broaden your horizons.
Enter to Win a Free Copy
Want to know more about the Giller Girls bookclub and about starting your own book club? You can purchase their novel through their website or in select book stores. For a chance to win a copy leave a comment below. Just fill in your name and e-mail address (which remains hidden) and any comment. We’ll pick a winner at random. The contest closed on October 12th. Congratulations to Barb for winning.