Since childhood I’ve always associated summer with reading—by the pool, on the beach, in my parent’s air-conditioned bedroom. It was a quiet, solitary activity, and while I love that, the older I’ve gotten, the more I want to talk to other people about what I’ve read. If you’re geared up for summer reading, itching for book suggestions, and a group to break it down with afterward, now is the perfect time to join a book club. And if you happen to be a woman who also enjoys a good glass of wine, it’s your lucky day. “House Read at House Red” (Read and Red being pronounced the same way) is seeking new members to join them!

The club was formed by Forest Park mother and daughter, Nicole Chakalis and Noola Laguardia, who both took classes in the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department, and after they left, found they missed not only the assigned readings, but having a group to discuss them with. Noola went to a meeting of another book club, but was disappointed to find no one had read the book or had much to say about it. “I realized I knew many people who read and an evening of literary conversation and wine couldn’t be hard to sell, and it wasn’t,” she said. “My mother, my friends from the hospital where I work, some alums from my old school, some neighbors, and a relative or two and we had a club.”

They meet at House Red because “the owner, Neb, has always been welcoming and generous with his hospitality.” And of course, Noola added, “They serve wine!” The club gathers every four to six weeks and chooses their book by committee. They’ve read a variety of works—popular fiction like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; the short story collection, Temple of Air by Chicagoan Patricia Ann McNair, who attended their group discussion; and classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Next up is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which they will be meeting on July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at House Red to discuss.

If you’re interested in joining, email Noola notes that group is women-only because they wanted create an environment where women feel comfortable sharing their point of view, especially since they emphasize that you don’t have to like every book just be open to discussion.

The Forest Park Public Library has a few different book clubs as well, which are open to any Forest Parker who wants to join, though “Kids and Coffee” is aimed at stay-at-home parents and requires reserving your spot with the library. They meet the last Tuesday of every month and their next book is The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, which they will discuss on May 28 at 10 a.m. “The Gammy Birds” fiction book club meets on the first Tuesday of the month and their next selection is The Round House by Louise Erdrich, which will be up for discussion on June 4 at 7p.m. The following Tuesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. is “Curiouser & Curiouser,” the nonfiction book group’s meeting, who will cover Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes. They always meet on the second Tuesday of the month.

You can check the library website to keep up with book club selections. They also love to help Forest Parkers with their own book clubs, so if you’re in a group like “House Read at House Red,” or looking to start one, drop by the reference desk to learn about reserving books and get other tips. Happy summer reading!

Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally...