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August 15, 2008 11:51 AM   Subscribe

How do I meet other bookish people in New York City?

I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’ll eventually need to attend grad school in English to satisfy my curiosity and bookish ambitions (and to lead a more enriched life paying off my debts) but I’m going stir-crazy in the meantime. I want to meet people who genuinely care about literature and magazine journalism, though not necessarily Mary Wilkie-types. I meet great people who seem to like reading, in terms of whatever they tote around on the subway, but I think they find me a tad pretentious. Then I feel like a jerk and try to curb that side of my personality as much as I can, but I’d also like to meet my own kind who won’t judge me for getting worked up about James Wood’s new lit crit tome.

Right, I know that “Book clubs” are the way to go, but I’ve been to about four since moving to Brooklyn and they struck me as glorified social gatherings in which the members caught up with friends they only see once a month. I didn’t want to be a schoolmarm about it, but conversation seemed to only peripherally pertain to the reading itself. And I know I’m being a hypocrite, because I want friends who will talk about books as much I want to talk about books themselves, but no one seemed especially rigorous in their desire to discuss the material.

I know Chicago has a great program where lay folk can sign up to take a class lead by a professor (I think last year they had Ulysses), and I’d love something similar. Popular bars, good book festivals, and any local blogs that list literary events would be much appreciated.
posted by zoomorphic to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Time Out lists the local readings every week. You can still meet people there, but those attending aren't trying to catch up with old friends, like in a book club.
posted by aswego at 11:59 AM on August 15, 2008

Readings are full of pretentious people! The L magazine, NY Mag etc also has a bunch of readings.

There is also brooklyn book fest coming up soon ... although it is kind of a mob scene, it's sort of fun.
posted by shownomercy at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2008

Lots of readings listed here.
Maybe some of these NYC GoodReads.com groups meet together.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2008

Try joining BookCrossing and going to the meetups - when I moved to Birmingham I met a load of people that way and made some dear friends, one of whom almost exactly shares my taste in books...
posted by LyzzyBee at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2008

Go to the readings at HousingWorks and McNally Robinson bookstores (or the ones at B&N) and strike up conversations with the other people there.
See if they have other recommendations for you or if they are in book clubs that you could join.
posted by rmless at 3:28 PM on August 15, 2008

If you're really serious/schoolmarmish about it, why not audit an upper-level undergrad or a graduate course in literature this fall? This will be easier to do officially (that is, by paying to register and enroll as a non-degree student) at the CUNY schools than e.g. NYU or Columbia – but it can be done unofficially, too, just by asking politely and getting the okay to attend from the individual professor. At a minimum you can easily attend many public lectures and readings at any of these universities, then circulate and talk to lingerering students and faculty afterwards for clues about where else to look.
posted by RogerB at 3:49 PM on August 15, 2008

I've never been but always wanted to go to KGB Bar readings.
posted by peacheater at 6:25 PM on August 15, 2008

Readerville.com is an online books & writing community in transition. It's was subscription, now free, the forums have been reinvented, there's a online mag at the front page. Right now, lots of insider stuff, so don't be put off; it's still beta. It's a welcoming group of smart, witty, readers and writers. It's always been well-moderated, and has had an excellent signal:noise ratio. Lots of NYC readervillagers of varying ages, and they've had great meetups.
posted by theora55 at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2008

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