Our book club meets in person every fourth Thursday at BookPeople in Austin, Texas to discuss the newest in literary fiction that are garnering the most buzz in bookseller circles. We communicate announcements and interesting book news related to our schedule through our New & Noteworthy Facebook group.
Jan Coco Day
Veteran bookseller and inventory manager at BookPeople. Jan’s litloves are international fiction in translation from East and Southeast Asia; Soviet dystopian fiction and science fiction; and fiction and nonfiction by and about women. [Her lit guilty pleasure is commercial mass market horror.] Jan has a background in English literature, libraries, and archives. As the inventory manager on the second floor of BookPeople, much of her professional reading is consumed by nonfiction. Her favorite book N&N has ever read is The Vegetarian by Han Kang.
Demi is the Sales & Marketing Assistant at UT Press, formerly Kids’ Event Coordinator at BookPeople. She likes to read literary fiction, compelling nonfiction, and sophisticated YA. [Her lit guilty pleasure is trashy fantasy romance. Her favorite book the N&N bookclub has ever read is Swing Time by Zadie Smith. She lives with her partner and her perfect gremlin of a dog, Beatrice.
How We Pick
As booksellers and professional readers, we aim to bring our expertise to the world, so we often (but not always) focus on contemporary literary fiction from diverse voices. Our selections have gone on to win awards (not that our selections have anything to do with the awards themselves, we just pick good books).
Each November and April, we bring summaries for 8-10 books to the in-person discussion. Book club members vote on which books they want to read in the coming 5-6 months. We, Demi and Jan, do not vote on selections unless in the event of a tie. We then make the upcoming schedule based on book publication schedules. Suggestions are always welcome as long as they meet the club criteria:
- Books don’t have to be brand new and can be out in paperback (we understand budgets), but they must have been published within the last 18 months.
- We select from both large and small publishing houses.
- We do not read self-published books.
Things to be aware of when making suggestions:
- The best way to make a title you suggest become part of our schedule is to join our Facebook group and to physically show up at our discussions. Private messages to the Facebook moderators are filtered. We don’t see them.
- As members, you vote on the titles, not the schedule. Because we are working with brand new books, we are subject to the release schedules of the publishers. We plan our schedules in order to give members enough time (at least a month) to get and read the books. We will never “rush” you by scheduling a book mere weeks after its publication date. We know you’re excited to read books immediately (we are, too), but we want to be respectful of everyone’s personal time.
- No, we cannot adjust the schedule once we have decided on it. We submit our schedule to BookPeople’s assistant buyer for ordering and to the marketing team for publication to the website and in our print newsletter immediately after we decide. As soon as it goes up on the Facebook group, consider it set in stone.
A Brief History of New & Noteworthy Book Club
In late 2013, Demi sent out a call for a partner to relaunch BookPeople’s abandoned New & Noteworthy book club. Jan, looking for an opportunity to read more literary fiction, signed up immediately. Our first meeting was in January 2014 and we have met each month (excluding December) since then.
At this point, we make our disclaimer: We read and meet due to the grace of BookPeople, who sponsors our club through marketing, free meeting space, making sure our book selections are stocked, and providing those books at a discount to club members. We do not and will never require that you obtain your books through BookPeople, but if you choose to do so, BookPeople offers you a 10% discount.
Holidaze Bonus Fun!
We also host the annual BookPeople Book Club Holiday Mixer and Book Swap. That’s a long name that describes a casual gathering, usually during the first week in December where we invite members of all BookPeople sponsored/hosted book clubs to mingle around common book talk. There’s also an optional book swap, which is always popular. Demi takes care of the snacks. She’s a professional.
We don’t meet for a book discussion in December because the fourth Thursday usually falls too close to observed midwinter holidays. Instead, we offer a party where you aren’t required to buy or read anything! Just come and let us feed you while you meet members of other book clubs.