Located in Tacoma’s Stadium District, King’s Bookstore has been supplying good reads, cuddly cats, and tons of events for more than 18 years. Its walls and aisles are lined with more than 100,000 titles, and a good way to explore the shelves is by joining one of its book clubs, which range from Shakespeare to nature. We dropped in to experience a handful of the clubs recently. Here’s an inside look.
Sword & Laser
Sometimes we read science fiction to cope with the present. Sometimes we read fantasy to mourn the past. Sometimes we read just to escape the reality of everyday life. The Sword & Laser book club previously explored titles like Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg.
“It’s really fun with a book that’s like 80 years old to see what the author’s vision was of the future,” said Maureen Paige, a regular attendee of Sword & Laser. “It’s interesting to think, ‘Wow we’ve really strayed,’ or ‘We really do have the same problems,’ or things like that. We think we’ve grown, but then we realize we’re still in the same rut. We just have Wi-Fi now. At least there’s Wi-Fi.”
The club usually meets at King’s to discuss the book of the month for the first hour, and then members try to catch up about different TV shows, movies, and other books that might be floating around their mental reading list. — First Sunday of every month at 1 p.m.
Banned Book Club
The Shining, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, A Clockwork Orange — all rated some of the most banned books in the history of literature. In 2017, the American Library Association reported 416 banned books, and the club meets monthly to discuss one of the titles from that list. The members meet at Doyle’s Public House — next to King’s — and discuss books over dinner and drinks. The banned books often give the reader a better understanding of what society was struggling with during different times. — Third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Doyle’s Public House.
Night Owl Nature
We live in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the United States, so it’s only fitting to have a book club dedicated to all things green. The Night Owl Nature Book Club reads nonfiction books related to climate change and the outdoors. The first book the club read was Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. (Check out our interview with the author.)
Night Owl Nature was born out of the Tahoma chapter of the Audubon Society, a national conservation society. The Tahoma Audubon society has its own book club that meets the first Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at the Adriana Hess Audubon Center.
Aside from bonding over books, the club also gets out into the real world together to enjoy some of the nature and history Washington has to offer.
“Some of these books have involved field trips,” said co-facilitator Mary Rance. “We read The Bitter Waters of Medicine Creek, and we went down to Nisqually, where the treaty of Medicine Creek was actually signed. We learned about the history of what happened, and about the Nisqually tribe; it was really a lot of fun.” — Third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
With popular shows on the rise like Wild Wild Country, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and American Horror Story, the cult genre has become a staple interest in American media. The Cult Classics book club explores cults through fiction and nonfiction reads. The group discusses how cults form, the social and psychological aspects of cults, and the eras in which cults were strongest.
The club has read books ranging from topics of North Korea to diagnosing a psychopath. One of the books the group read was Underground by Haruki Murakami. Murakami explores the real story of a Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, that was involved in an act of domestic terrorism when it released highly toxic sarin gas in a Tokyo subway in March of 1995.
“We just hang out and talk about how crazy these books are,” Kayla Howser said, the book club leader. — Fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.