I wonder if it’s true that gay men are (on average) not the most avid readers around. I also wonder if, in a virtual world, where books, music, love (well… you know what I mean) have gone digital, what we really need os face-to-face interaction to really promote books. Isn’t it better to meet with like-minded people for an chat and maybe a drink while exploring the beauty of gay-themed books? Maybe what we really need is not so much online driven initiatives, not avatars that tell us what they like, not yet another app, but the experience of meeting real people in the flesh.
When I moved to the capital from Wales many years ago, I used to get suggestions on what to read by a lady who used to keep a box of LGBT books under her stall (those were different times), and still some of the best LGBT literature I have read comes from that hidden box…
Bristol Gay Men’s Book Group started off about ten years ago and has members from a mixture of ages and backgrounds. The turnout varies between six and fourteen people, though we have about forty people on the list of members. The books we read vary from ‘light’ to ‘heavy’, usually written either by or about gay men. Anyone is free to choose a book but they don’t necessarily have to introduce it themselves. Discussions are quite lively: we have one member (me) who loves virtually every book fairly uncritically and one who virtually savages every book (but he is quite gentle really!).
We meet monthly, usually Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, at 7.30 for 8 in a member’s flat on Bristol’s harbourside or at two members’ house in Birshopston and chat over a glass of wine, beer or cup of coffee.
Some people turn up to every meeting; others choose which meetings to attend according to whichever book is being discussed at any given time.
Visit the Bristol Gay Men’s Reading Club: https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/
What members say:
“It’s a good crowd, with some excellent, intelligent and often witty debates — and lots of essential laughs too (perhaps the wine helps here).”
“That’s what I find interesting. You get to read books you’d never have read otherwise.”
“My favourite evening each month. Always look forward to it.”
“I enjoyed last night. I tend to be a bit shy and tongue-tied most of the time, so I was pleased it was a small, comfortable group for my first meeting.”
Thank You so very much for the welcome at last night’s meeting of the Book Club. I usually feel quite intimidated by going to a new session with people whom I do not know. Last night was relaxed and welcoming and I felt completely at ease with the group.
“I had a lovely time, thank you”
“a lovely home and an attentive host”
“a great list of books”
“Enjoyed last night, good venue, views and lovely to see the wine flowing”
“a much nicer atmosphere than any bar and no distractions from it being a book club rather than any other type of social gathering”
a really pleasant, sociable evening. the book club members are a good crowd.
From someone who moved away: “I’ve enjoyed (some of!) the books we’ve read and the insights offered (into the book group members themselves as much as the books).”
“From someone who became ill with dementia and who persevered with our group despite leaving to other book groups: I love this group – it’s a safe space where I don’t feel scared.”
“I couldn’t have found a more loving, supportive bunch of friends in Bristol if I’d tried.”
“A very nice and convivial evening.”
If you live near Bristol, do contact them; do make your reading experience less lonely… If you live far, why don’t you create your own local group? I’d be happy to give you a space on this site.