Shenzhen's 'Books and Brews': Not Your Momma's Book Club

By Bailey Hu, August 29, 2017

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Social Skills is a monthly column featuring community groups where you can meet new people through exercise or other enjoyable activities.

This isn’t your mother’s book club. Books and Brews updates the tradition of discussing reads in small groups by throwing in something different: craft beer.

Members gather at local brewpub Bionic to talk about each month’s pick – decided through a democratic vote – over brimming glasses of whatever’s on tap. Gatherings are held on Sunday evenings and usually see around 6-10 people, making for cozy discussions.

Membership is free and open to all. Founder Winnie Jin started the group intending ‘to build a community with common interests.’

As for the combination of beer with books: ‘Taprooms have a great vibe – they’re not usually too crowded, and people aren’t too drunk. They’re unpretentious and inviting, which is exactly what I want the book club to be.’

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In between meetups, the more than 80 members mostly communicate in the WeChat group, suggesting new books and then choosing their favorites from a shortlist each month. Past picks have included classics such as 1984 and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, plus more contemporary novels like Shelter, centered around the dark secrets of a Korean-American family.

Although the reading material so far has leaned towards literary fiction, Jin is happy to switch things up. August, for example, was the club’s first graphic novel month, and popular vote swung in favor of Persepolis, an autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Iran.

Having such a diverse array of English-language options does come with a downside: most readers will have to stick to e-books due to lack of availability in local bookstores.

But for non-traditionalists, there’s still a lot to love about this cool, quirky group.

To join the WeChat group, add Winnie Jin at ID ‘winniejin-.’

Click here for more Social Skills.

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