Book clubs and literary meetups are becoming all the mild-mannered rage, and the Valley happens to have a lot of them. In metro Phoenix, book groups are hosted by the dozens at library branches, independent bookstores, a museum, and even a few historic sites.
Eager readers looking to talk all things book and author can find groups focusing on local authors, Westerns, and mysteries, while some just get together to read their own picks in silence. More than a few also have a bar.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the hundreds of book clubs happening throughout the Valley, but here are a few worth checking out.
1750 East Highland Avenue
The Biltmore area’s Century Library – part of the Phoenix Public Library system – hosts the monthly Century Friends Book Club, which meets in the Century Library Meeting Room every first Wednesday of the month. Registration is not required, and there is no fee to join. It's the same concept for the Century Friends Mystery Book Club, except that members meet every third Thursday to discuss a selected mystery novel. New members are always welcome.
Changing Hands Phoenix
300 West Camelback Road
The central Phoenix location of the two Changing Hands bookstores, this bookshop and happy hour stop hosts a number of book clubs. Here you'll find the Arizona Opera Book Club, a Silent Book Club, and the First Draft Book Club. The official book club of First Draft Book Bar, the monthly First Draft Book Club meetup is guided by the Republic's Barbara VanDenburgh, and usually covers a current, buzz-worthy release. Speaking of buzz, you can grab yourself a beer, wine, or coffee at happy hour prices during the talk.
Changing Hands Tempe
6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe
Around since 1998, the Tempe location of Changing Hands is an obvious choice for book clubs. With meet-ups held in the back of the store, club focuses range from modern fiction, Spanish, sci-fi and fantasy, and crime fiction to more niche topics like the Path of the Craft Bookgroup, Mocha Girls Bookgroup, and the Pagan Book Talk. Visit the Changing Hands Book Clubs website for a full list. You can also register your own club, and receive 10 percent off paperback and 20 percent off hardcover selections.
Desert Broom Library
29710 North Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
Designed by Richärd + Bauer, the Desert Broom Library in Cave Creek is not only a stunning, LEED-certified building, it's also the home of the monthly Novel Ideas Book Club. Assembling every fourth Tuesday in the meeting room, the club selects everything from suspense and mystery to romance and nonfiction for its two-hour discussion. New members are welcome.
Glendale Public Library Central Library
5959 West Brown Street, Glendale
Also referred to as the Main Library, this flagship branch of the Glendale Public Library system neighbors the beautiful Glendale Xeriscape Garden. The Glendale Main Library hosts everything from the Southwest and Western-themed Best of the West Book Discussion Group and self-care group A You-niquely Designed Book Discussion Club to the Afternoon Readers' Group and Mystery Readers Group. The Real to Reel Book Group holds discussions on books that were made into movies, and meets in the large meeting room on second Monday.
Grand Central Coffee Company
718 North Central Avenue
This massive coffee shop and event space features the Second Wednesday Silent Reading Club hosted by Pete Petrisko and Stacey Champion. The monthly, family-friendly silent reading group encourages attendees to BYO book to catch up on that novel/paperback/hiking guide/whatever. This reading club is currently on hiatus, but will return in October 2017 with six installments starting Wednesday, October 11. The Grand Central Coffee Company also offers a full menu and bar, so you can indulge in a little dinner or drink from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Each month also has a theme, named like the chapter of a book, to express life in Phoenix.
Phoenix Art Museum
1625 North Central Ave
Book fans and the art world collide at the Art Lovers Book Club at Phoenix Art Museum. Held in the Lemon Art Research Library, the group has covered everything from The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey and The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby to Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Net. There are usually three sessions of discussion per book each month. The event is free, but does not include admission to the museum itself. Space is pretty limited, so an RSVP is required. Participants must read the book in advance, which is usually carried in the museum store, and is often available through the nearby Burton Barr Central Library.
Read on for more reading groups.
2808 North 46th Street
This Arcadia-area branch of the Phoenix Public Library hosts the Saguaro Friends Book Club every second Thursday to discuss books and authors, as well as the designated book of the group (with selections like Once Upon a Time in Russia and works by Margaret Atwood). The Saguaro Library meeting room also hosts the Arcadia News Book Club, hosted by local writer Amanda Goossen.
South Mountain Community Library
7050 South 24th Street
A partnership between Phoenix Public Library and South Mountain Community College, the South Mountain Community Library hosts a wide array of book clubs and discussion groups. There's the SMCL Book Club every second Tuesday and Literary Circle Book Club every fourth Saturday. Both groups offer discussions on a member-chosen book, and the clubs are free and open to the public.
The Piper Writers House
Palm Walk and Tyler Mall at ASU Tempe
This 1907 historic home is found on Arizona State University’s main campus in Tempe, as well as the National Register of Historic Places – and it’s home to the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the ASU Book Group. This club reads books by ASU professors, staff, and alumni, as well as local authors, and meets once a month with the actual author. Journalist Judith Smith founded the club, which is open to all ASU faculty members, staff, students, alumni, and the community. The free ASU Book Group meets for a monthly discussion at the Piper Writers House from noon to 1 p.m. in the Piper Writers House. It's usually followed by lunch with the author at the University Club on the Tempe campus.
The Poisoned Pen
4014 North Goldwater Boulevard, #101, Scottsdale
The quaint Old Town Scottsdale bookstore offers a number of crime- and fiction-themed automatic-selection book clubs. That means the clubs picks a book based on you which group you joined, and a first-edition pick (oftentimes signed) is charged to your credit card and shipped to your house each month. Book groups at The Poisoned Pen include the Hardboiled Crime Club, the Surprise Me! Club, History Paperback Club, the SciFi/Fantasy/Horror Club, Modern First Editions, and Fresh Fiction. You can even give book club membership as a gift.
130 North Central Avenue
The Reading Room at Valley Bar is the spot for spirited literary and philosophical conversation during the monthly gathering called Get Lit. Four Chambers Press and Phoenix poet laureate Rosemarie Dombrowski host this free, first Thursday discussion on reading, writing, the media, and the world in general – just like those 17th-century French salons we’ve all read about – adhering to a monthly theme. The talk starts at 7 p.m., and cocktails are more or less encouraged.
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Velma Teague Branch Library
7010 North 58th Avenue
One of three locations of the Glendale Public Library system, the Velma Teague Branch Library is located in Historic Downtown Glendale. It's home to the Velma's Clues Mystery Book Club. Each month's meeting covers a mystery title with a group in the VTL Meeting Room every second Thursday. Authors include Nevada Barr, Jefferson Bass, and Nancy Atherton. Glendale Public Library librarian Judy Coon hosts the discussion. This branch also hosts the quarterly Brown Bag Booktalk, and the monthly 58th Avenue Book Group.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.