Kelly Strom | Join a book club in 2019

Kelly Strom | Join a book club in 2019

A new year and a new purpose! Besides the usual efforts to lose weight, abolish bad habits or travel more, try joining a book club.

There are lots of independent book clubs in the Champaign area, including two here at our library for adults.

The Cover-to-Cover Book Club meets here on the second Thursday of each month at 1:30 p.m. January's book pick is "Ada's Algorithm" by James Essinger, a biography based on the life of mathematician Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron. According to the author, Lovelace's work was instrumental in the development of the first programmable computer.

February switches gears to the fictional house arrest of a count in "A Gentleman In Moscow" by Amor Towles.

Our Douglass Branch Library has a book club as well, meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

The Table Talk Book Club focuses on books by contemporary African American authors. This Tuesday, they are discussing the bestselling young adult novel "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas. Seemingly ripped from the headlines, it's about a teen girl torn between two worlds, the impoverished neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy suburban neighborhood where she goes to school.

In February, this group will be talking about "The Banks Sisters" by Nikki Turner. Four women can't stand each other, but all live in the same house as their grandmother. When tragedy strikes, they are forced to come together and work out a plan to save their home and each other.

If you're into more anonymous reading and sharing, then check out some of the celebrity book clubs out there.

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker chairs the American Library Association's Book Club Central and makes selections for the book club based on what she enjoys reading.

January's pick is "Golden Child" by Claire Adam, which will be released this month under Ms. Parker's own imprint: SJP for Hogarth. This debut novel focuses on brothers Peter and Paul, one full of promise and the other deemed a failure.

For more information about this club, visit for a reading guide.

Reese Witherspoon has a popular book club called Hello Sunshine. She chooses books at the beginning of each month and seems to like female-driven stories.

The club meets virtually, often with Reese and the authors together for the discussion.

"One Day In December" by Josie Silver was December's pick, a debut novel about two people who carry on despite a draw for each other but keep on having missed connections.

January's book hasn't been announced yet. Visit for more information.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is apparently regarded as the NFL's unofficial librarian, which I think is pretty cool. He also has a book club, offering two picks each month, one is a book he'd enjoyed as a child and one is strictly for adults.

Podcasts are held with discussions, sometimes with the authors as well as Luck.

His latest adult pick was "Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life" by Arlene Blum, an autobiography of a female scientist and climber who has led a life of challenging barriers.

Check out his website at to see what he decides to pick for January. Or will he be a little busy this month with the Colts?

Harry Potter heroine Emma Watson has made quite a name for herself in feminist circles. Her book club is actually on the Goodreads site and is called Our Shared Shelf.

If you haven't visited Goodreads, it's a must for an avid reader. You'll find loads of recommendations, opportunities for commentaries, schedules for reading and much more.

Watson has been known to leave some of her reading picks on subways for other people and was recently named the U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.

Her latest book picks include "Good and Mad" by Rebecca Traister, "Eloquent Rage" by Brittney Cooper and "Sister Outsider" by Audre Lorde.Oprah is, of course, going strong with her book club. Her latest pick is "Becoming" by Michelle Obama, and she offers lots of information on

Coincidentally, that will be the featured title of the Champaign Library's joint discussion group in April.

Singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson has paired with his friend, bestselling author Kelly Corrigan, to form their new book club, Doin' It In the Nook.

Members get to vote for the books to read and discuss. The current title is "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson, after finishing "Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Discussion is held on their Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as a streaming podcast as the book is finished. Go to for more information.

Lastly, super popular young adult author John Green, who has written a number of bestselling and insightful books, encourages you to try out his book club. Called Life's Library, he and a friend present both adult and YA novels.

The difference in this one is that it's a fundraiser for a non-profit that helps poverty-stricken families. It's free to join the discussion, but if you'd like to receive discussion materials, it's $10, and if you'd like to up your donation to $25, you receive the book, some swag and the discussion aids.

Green has an active Twitter and Instagram following, so join him there for more info on his book club.

His latest pick is "If You Come Softly" by Jacqueline Woodson, a contemporary story about interracial romance among teens at a private school.

I can think of nothing better to improve your life than to read more books. Books are doors that open to new worlds, current ideas, self-empowerment and contentment. Start now. A new year is waiting.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Books