Beverages and Books: Library club combines reading and happy hour

The Desert Foothills Library’s Get Lit Book Club encourages participants and library staff to get out into Cave Creek/Carefree. (Desert Foothills Library/Submitted)

By Laura Latzko

These days, book clubs are increasingly taking place outside of traditional coffee shops and libraries, in spots such as restaurants, bars and homes. As part of its programming, the Desert Foothills Library in Cave Creek offers a happy hour book club called Get Lit Book Club. 

The gatherings take place the second Tuesday of every month in restaurants around Cave Creek and Carefree. They are facilitated by three members of the library staff: acquisitions librarian Sara Zapotocky, circulation manager Kassie Green, and youth and teen services manager Heather Wurr.  

Zapotocky says, from the start, the book club offered a more social setting for talking about books and has allowed locals to discover new places in their community. 

“That’s the whole idea, is we want to encourage bringing business to local restaurants in the Cave Creek/Carefree area. That was one of our goals, not just to meet but to help our community,” Zapotocky says. 

The book club started in the summer of 2019 but had to be moved online for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been back in person full time since March. Zapotocky says even when the meetings went online, she encouraged participants to have a drink and a snack while discussing books. 

During meetings at restaurants, the library provides appetizers for book club members, but they need to purchase their own beverages and entrees. 

As for the “book” club, participants read a variety of works, including nonfiction, classics, memoirs and contemporary fiction. 

“I feel like it’s a really good mix of books. It’s eclectic, and I think that’s part of what our regulars like, is that it’s not tied to one genre,” Green says. 

All the facilitators are avid readers who developed a love of books early in life. Green grew up with a mom who was an English teacher. The book club gives the facilitators an excuse to find and read something new. 

“We are mostly choosing books that we want to read ourselves. This is a great excuse,” Zapotocky says. 

The facilitators all have a chance to select books. 

“We are taking turns picking the books, and then the month that it’s my book, the expectation is that I would facilitate it. And staff are always there to be supportive, even if it’s not their month,” Green says. 

Green is a fan of true crime and mystery books, while Zapotocky leans more toward nonfiction. Green says the facilitators look for books that will spark conversations, even when book club members may not like them. 

“We just have gotten a lot of great contrasting viewpoints, as you might imagine, in the discussions,” Green adds. 

The books discussed change monthly. The library has digital and paper copies of the titles, or participants can choose to purchase their own copies. 

In September, the book club will read Miranda Cowley Heller’s “The Paper Palace.” This fictional work follows Elle, a mother of three, as she wakes up at the summer home she has visited for much of her life. This time is different, as she had an adult encounter with her longtime friend Jonas and must choose the direction of her life. 

October will be focused on the psychological/social commentary horror novel “The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones. 

Other books this year have included Stephen Davis’ “Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks”; Danny Trejo’s and Donal Logue’s “Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood”; a novel about the struggles faced by a Vietnamese family during the Vietnam War called “The Mountains Sing” by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai; a nonfiction story about the first women to attend Yale called “Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant” by Anne Gardiner Perkins; and a biography about the women in Benjamin Franklin’s life called “Poor Richard’s Women” by Nancy Rubin Stuart. 

During one month, book club members were encouraged to choose from young adult books in the same reimagined fairy tale series. 

Zapotocky says that through the book club, participants often discover new literature. 

“It gets them to read a book that they probably never would have read,” Zapotocky says. 

Generally, around eight core members show up to the meetings, but newbies are encouraged to come check it out. The number of attendees fluctuates, depending on the time of the year. But many regulars get to know each other over multiple book club meetings. There is always a portion of the meetings designated for catching up with each other. 

“It always starts with, ‘What has been going on in our life,’ as we are ordering a drink or an appetizer. And then we will get to the book,” Zapotocky says.

Get Lit Book Club

WHEN: 5 to 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month, including September 13

WHERE: Various restaurants in Cave Creek, Carefree

COST: Online reservations required; charge for beverages and entrées

INFO: 480-488-2286,