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Unsure What to Read this Holy Week? These Local Book Clubs Have A Couple of Great Suggestions

One thing we found out from putting this piece together: it’s not easy to maintain a book club, or keep one’s self attached to one. Some clubs have transformed into “The Bubbly Club,” as one restaurateur puts it, an excuse to see friends and have a glass of champagne one too many.





Some clubs just fall apart when the necessary distractions of work and love and social media take over members’ lives. But apart from the celebrity-spearheaded book clubs online—Reese Witherspoon’s which just finished reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, Emma Watson’s very feminist Our Shared Shelf currently reading Heart Berries, A Memoir by Therese Marie Mailhot, and Oprah’s Book Club which has recently taken up An American Marriage by Tayari Jones—we found three groups still hanging in there, keeping the flame alive no matter the odds, making a party of it with various add-ons to the readings and discussions.

We introduce you to these three, and they share with us what they’re currently reading: two books (because two share the same current read) you might want to take up this long Holy Week weekend. Who knows, you might want to join their groups, too, and stick it out.   


What's the name of the club? Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books (PRPB). It’s a group with a special focus on Filipino Literature—all published works that are written in: (1) our own national language, Filipino (Tagalog); (2) other Philippine dialects; (3) English but published locally; (4) any other foreign languages but translated to Filipino; and (5) any language by any foreign authors with Philippines or Filipinos depicted or portrayed realistically and/or positively.



Who are your members? We were formed in, so all of our members have Goodreads account. And we are very diverse. As long as you love reading Filipino books, you're very welcome in the group. Most of the members are young professionals: teachers, people working in IT, call center agents, bankers, writers by profession, and some who worked in the publishing industry just to name a few.

How do you choose the books? According to a particular theme—based on a monthly set up chosen and voted upon by its members via an online poll in Goodreads (but sometimes, on our Facebook group where most of the members are active).


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When and where do you meet? Discussions take place on the group’s thread following a reading schedule. A meet-and-greet is then arranged with the book’s author(s) whenever possible. This is mostly done during the first Saturday of the month. The first choice of the place must relate to the book, whether in its plot or where the author takes his or her writing. Sometimes we go to provinces and have walking tours to have a closer experience with the book. If it’s not possible to interview the author, we take our discussion in coffee shops or in our moderator's house.




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What are you currently reading? We already discussed “Sa Amin, Sa Dagat-Dagatang Apoy” by Mayette M. Bayuga in Laguna in time for Women's Month. We are currently reading "Troya: 12 Kuwento" by Joselito D. Delos Reyes to be discussed next month in Bulacan.

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What’s the name of your book club? None.

Where do you meet? We meet at a coffee shop in Makati or each other’s apartments/ houses.

Who are your members? Twenty- to thirtysomethings who are friends, love both fiction and non-fiction, voracious readers who probably also need to go on an online media diet.

How do you choose the books? We don’t have one way to choose the books, but we do read publications that talk about books (The New York Times, New Yorker, Financial Times) so typically we may select a book from their list of best books of the year. But the most important thing is that we get the gut feel that there will be wildly different levels of appreciation for the book in question. A polarizing book that is of decent quality is better for a book club discussion than an excellent book that is widely revered by book club members.



My grandfather left behind his entire family in Pyongyang when he was 15, when he crossed over to South Korea to avoid being arrested for having been abandoned by his regiment. My other grandfather lost his family when he left to serve as an army doctor in the Korean War and was unable to reenter what was now North Korea. This book ultimately focuses on zainichi Koreans, but it’s first and foremost a book about the Koreans who were left scattered in the wind because of war and poverty and the loss that followed such devastation. It’s easy to forget, as a privileged second generation Korean American, about the circles of migration in my family and the way the trauma of my grandparents has transcended time and geography to haunt their children and grandchildren. I have always been deeply uncomfortable with answering the question of where I am from, and I continue to wonder whether my grandfathers ever hesitated to answer that question themselves. I feel like this book is a response to that feeling, to trace the unavoidable loss and longing we all feel, engrained into our bones. #pachinko #minjinlee #gyopo #bookstagram @lee_minjin

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What is the club currently reading? Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, which deals with the Korean migrant experience and assimilation in Japan. This book was in a number of “best book of 2017” lists; the Korea-Japan cultural political dynamic is interesting; and we were in the mood for some intergenerational drama.


What is the name of the club? Flips Flipping Pages.

When and where do you meet? We have monthly discussions from February to November. Each month, we discuss a specific book or author or genre. We meet in various places, sometimes dependent on the theme of the month. It can be a cafe or restaurant. But we've kept it varied through the years. The farthest we've met is in Bacolod where we had a picnic discussion at Balay Negrense. Every January, we do not talk about a specific book. Instead, every member shares his/her best and worst books of the previous year. Every December, we have a party with a literary theme.



Who are the members? They're called Flippers. Because we like flipping pages. We have no requirements in age, profession, reading preferences, or gender. As long as you want to read and talk about the books you read, then you're open to participate. Our members range in age from 20s to 50s. We have teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, writers, editors. Some are in IT, in the fields of science, marketing, video art production, NGO work. It's really a mixed group. We have moms, fresh college graduates, etc. Off work, some are into gaming, into travel, into civic work, into crafts. All we have in common is a love for books and literature.

How do you choose the books? We usually plan the book line-up for the year. Though lately, we've been leaving some months free for new publications or for surprise activities. Moderators volunteer and pitch their book/author/genre suggestions. If their suggestion generates enough interest among the members, the moderator picks a month. The moderator promotes the book and sends out Facebook event invites a month or two before the discussion. Sometimes, we have online discussions and teaser activities to spark excitement before the meeting.

What are you currently reading? For April, we will discuss Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. We are interested in discussing Korean literature, and this title has good reviews.



Questionnaires answered by Gege Sue (Flips Flipping Pages), Ronie Chua Padao (PRPS) and Fabian Mangahas.