What we're about

Do you have an insatiable love of learning? Can you spend hours in a book store? Could you spend all of your hard-earned money on books? Do you spend much of your spare time reading?

If your answer is yes to any of those questions, then join us! We meet at least once a month to discuss previously chosen books. We read nonfiction books – mostly history, public affairs, and biographies. Members are encouraged to suggest additional meetings for books they love, author readings, film adaptations of books, or other literary related events.

Our book club meetings are usually on the third, fourth, or fifth Thursday of the month at 7 pm, and we meet at private conference rooms at the library, local restaurants, and in members’ homes in western Fairfax County (Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, Tysons, Centreville, & Fairfax) and eastern Loudoun County (Sterling, Ashburn, & Leesburg).
The host provides a main dish, and members bring potluck dishes. Dinner starts once everyone has arrived and fellowship is encouraged. We sit down for a group discussion around 7:30 pm.

We do have a few requirements for membership. These rules exist because most events take place in members’ homes and are for security and to be respectful of the time, money, and energy it takes to host.

1. We would love to recognize you when you attend your first event. Please post a current picture of yourself as your profile picture for our group. Membership in the group is contingent upon having a current profile picture of yourself.

2. We have a No Solicitation/Self-Promotion policy. We do not schedule parties with the intent to sell goods or services, take part in multi-level marketing activities, or post messages promoting or advertising businesses.

3. While everyone has their own experiences and beliefs, we will not allow anyone to bully, marginalize, dismiss, or harass anyone else. It takes our volunteers a lot of time to keep the book club running smoothly. Please be constructive in your feedback and offer solutions.

Attendance Policy

If you have RSVPed yes to an event and change your plans, please make sure you update your RSVP on Meetup 72 hours prior to the event. If you do not update your RSVP, you will be moved to the waitlist for upcoming events. Repeat offenders will be removed from the group at the organizers’ discretion. Members who RSVP and no show to an event that has a wait list will be immediately removed from the club. If a member has not attended a book discussion in six months their membership may be terminated. Members who are removed because they haven’t attended a meeting in six months and wish to continue their membership may rejoin but must attend a meeting within three months of rejoining the club.

We understand that sometimes life happens – if this is the case, and you cannot make an event after the RSVP deadline has passed, PLEASE message the organizers and let us know what's going on so that you're not marked a no show and possibly removed from the group.

Upcoming events (5+)

Discussion with the Author: The Baltimore Book of the Dead by Marion Winik

The Baltimore Book of the Dead with the Author Marion Winik. Details: Please join us for an inter-group meeting with Girls’ Night In and Nonfiction & Nibble to discuss The Baltimore Book of the Dead. If you’re a member of both clubs, please RSVP to only one to ensure a proper headcount. The author, Marion Winik, will be joining our meeting via skype at 8pm to answer any questions we have about the book and/or her writing process. This nonfiction book of essays has been selected as an Organizers’ Choice for an inter-group mixer as a result of the impression it left on the members who have read it & would like to discuss it with others. “While the title sounds macabre, this is anything but, instead offering thoughtful remembrances in a series of short essays. Every essay is a mini eulogy of a life lived, sometimes well, sometimes painfully, but each brings forth a picture of its subject in a beautifully constructed, almost poetic way. There is nothing extraneous, no maudlin ramblings, only memories boiled down to their essence and each is remarkable.” ~ Victoria “This is one of the most unique books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Each of Winik’s essays is a poignant layered portrait that conveys the impact of personal loss with impressive brevity.” ~ Amy From Goodreads: The Baltimore Book of the Dead “Death is the subtext of life, there is no way around it. It is the foundation of life’s meaning and value.” From the author’s introduction Approaching mourning and memory with intimacy, humor, and an eye for the idiosyncratic, the story starts in the 1960s in Marion Winik's native New Jersey, winds through Austin, Texas, and rural Pennsylvania, and finally settles in her current home of Baltimore. Winik begins with a portrait of her mother, the Alpha, introducing locales and language around which other stories will orbit: the power of family, home, and love; the pain of loss and the tenderness of nostalgia; the backdrop of nature and public events. From there, she goes on to create a highly personal panorama of the last half century of American life. Joining the Alpha are the Man Who Could Take Off His Thumb, the Babydaddy, the Warrior Poetess, El Suegro, and the Thin White Duke, not to mention a miniature toy poodle and a goldfish.

History Book Discussion: The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre

Join us for a potluck dinner and to discuss The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre. An unprecedented history of a personality test devised in the 1940s by a mother and daughter, both homemakers, that has achieved cult-like status and is used in today's most distinguished boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. Its language - of extraversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling - has inspired online dating platforms and BuzzFeed quizzes alike. And yet despite the test's widespread adoption, experts in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry, struggle to account for its success - no less to validate its results. How did the Myers-Briggs test insinuate itself into our jobs, our relationships, our Internet, our lives? First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of aspiring novelists and devoted homemakers, the Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life of its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was honed against some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo; to elementary schools, nunneries, wellness retreats, and the closed-door corporate training sessions of today. Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers examines nothing less than the definition of the self - our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. Surprising and absorbing, the book, like the test at its heart, considers the timeless question: What makes you you?

Biography Discussion: Captive by Catherine Oxenberg

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Join us for a potluck dinner and to discuss Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult by Catherine Oxenberg. In this heartbreaking and shocking exposé, one of Dynasty’s biggest stars lays bare a secretive organization that is holding her daughter hostage and details her mission to save her in this powerful depiction of a mother’s love and determination. I am a mother whose child is being abused and exploited. And I am not alone. In 2011, Catherine joined her daughter, India, at a leadership seminar for a new organization called NXIVM. Her twenty-year-old daughter was on the threshold of building a new company and they both thought this program might help her achieve her dream. But quickly, Catherine saw a sinister side to what appeared to be a self-help organization designed to help its clients become the best versions of themselves. Catherine watched in horror as her daughter fell further and further down the rabbit hole, becoming brainwashed by the organization’s charismatic leader. Despite Catherine’s best efforts, India was drawn deeper into the cult, eventually joining a secret, elite “sorority” of women members who are ordered to maintain a restricted diet, recruit other women as “slaves,” and are branded with their leader’s initials. In Captive, Catherine shares every parent’s worst nightmare, and the lengths that a mother will go to save her child. Featuring interviews with past members of NXIVM and experts in the field of cults, Oxenberg attempts to draw back the curtain on how these groups continue to lure in members. She relates her continuing journey to try to reach her daughter, to save her from what she believes is a dangerous, mind-controlling cult.

History Discussion: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Join us for a potluck dinner and to discuss In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the New Germany, she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Goring and the expectedly charming—yet wholly sinister—Goebbels, In the Garden of Beastslends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

Past events (3)

Biography Book Discussion: Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich

Cascades Library, Meeting Room B

Photos (16)