Name a genre, and Houston probably has a book club for you. We’ve rounded up a small selection of the coolest reading groups in town to help you make your pick. Some are traditional, some give you a window into historic homes, some allow you to geek out with the author and others are totally niche.
For the low-level agoraphobe: Half Price Books Book Club
Currently reading: The Girls by Emma Cline
If you don’t have the time to actually attend monthly meetings, or just don’t want to talk to other people after a long day (we get it), believe it or not, there’s a book club for that. The Half Price Books Book Club is exclusively online, which means no in-person interaction whatsoever. Instead, members respond to thought-provoking questions via the only online comments section actually worth reading. Twitter users can also write comments about the book using the hashtag #hpbbookclub. There’s even an interactive poll with questions about the books.
For serious readers: Tough Broads Out at Night Book Club
Currently reading: This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
This book club wins for most original title. For around 20 years, book lovers have been meeting in the evening at Blue Willow Bookstore to discuss contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and classics chosen by bookstore owner and book club leader Valerie Koehler. Daytime more your speed? The Coffee Cake Book Club at Blue Willow discusses books of the same genres in the morning. Recent discussions have hit on deep topics such as mental health, families, and grief, but it’s not always so serious. Koehler’s one suggestion? Read the entire book before you come to get the most out of the discussion.
For spoopy readers: Murder by the Book Discussion Group
Currently reading: I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh and The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell
This club is the real deal. On Wednesday evenings, 20 to 30 people gather within the maze of shelves at Murder by the Book, one of the nation’s oldest mystery bookstores, for a discussion that can last up to two and a half hours. Members suggest books that correspond to a monthly theme a few months in advance. While this month’s theme, suspense/thrillers, is broad, others sound like oddly-specific Netflix categories—think “mysteries with a social conscience” or “holiday party.”
For the tree hugger: The Year of Reading Dangerously
Currently reading: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Named after the TV series Years of Living Dangerously, this group focuses on climate change, specifically nonfiction-oriented political and environmental realism. Steve Stelzer, director of the Green Building Resource Center, says he did a year of reading dangerously himself before starting the club, which meets at Central Library. The focus isn’t always on environmentalism—a previous discussion on Twenty-Six Seconds, a history of the filming of the Kennedy assassination, centered around the court of public opinion and culture change. Past selections include hard-hitting reads like The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Sixth Extinction.
For the nosy: Rienzi and Bayou Bend History Book Club
Currently reading: Jewels: A Secret History by Kathryn Casey
History aficionados (or people who just like fancy houses) alternate between two Museum of Fine Arts, Houston house museums, Bayou Bend and Rienzi, to discuss books about everything from the emergence of colonialism and trade to gardening and textile production. Books center around life in America and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, with Tom Standage and Andrea Wulf among past favorite authors. On-site educators facilitate discussions, meaning you’re sure to learn lots of historical information that wasn’t in the book.
For the wannabe detective: Katy Budget Books Mystery Matters Book Club
Currently Reading: Possessed: The Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder by Kathryn Casey
If there’s a detective involved, Mystery Matters will read it. These readers loving nothing more than a good whodunit, and they read crime fiction of all kinds, including police procedural, cozies, and, most recently, true crime. Mystery Matters Coordinator Karla Hodde says the only rule is that it has to still be in print. Mysteries aren’t your thing? Check out the brunch book club for discussions on general fiction and women’s fiction—and, for some added enticement, donuts.
For the fame seekers: Inprint Book Club
Currently reading: TBD (but probably something famous)
Through the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, anyone can attend a reading and interview by a famous author for just $5. Most authors come to promote a new release. The Inprint Book Club meets to discuss the author’s book a few weeks later. This club is great for people who want the chance to listen to the author’s comments on their work before discussing. Past reads include Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Meetings start again in October, after the reading series commences.