Town Talk Features

Bookshelf: The Novel Neighbor Book Club

If you love bingo and reading, The Novel Neighbor has a book club for you. Owner Holland Saltsman, who opened the charming local bookstore in Webster Groves in September, has created a fun way to choose the club’s next read. “I made bingo cards to pass out at the store to encourage people to read outside of their comfort zone,” she says. “They’re great for summer reading.”

Every member gets a card, and the group tries to choose books that will fill more than one square. For example, next month’s novel, Ancillary Sword, fills both ‘written by a local author’ and ‘sci-fi.’ “If you get a bingo, you’re entered into a drawing,” Saltsman explains. “A blackout (filling the entire card) gets you a chance for a bigger prize—24 books is a lot!” The club also is unique because its members vary each month. “I already was involved in a book club when I opened the store, so The Novel Neighbor absorbed it and we started meeting here the second Monday of every month,” Saltsman explains. “There are still about three original members.” She says since it’s not a consistent group, no one feels left out or like they’ve missed anything. “Every week new people find the store and get interested in the club. Everyone is welcome!”

bookshelf_only-the-strong[about the book]
Only the Strong takes place in the 1970s in North St. Louis during rapid social and political change. It explores the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community that faces heartbreak and violence.

[opinions]
» Only the Strong is set during a time when MLK’s assassination was fresh in everyone’s minds, and Delmar served as the dividing line between the races of the Gateway City. Asim used the mood of the time to create passionate characters with separate, yet interconnected and well-developed storylines. I enjoyed this unique novel—one I would not have found if not for the book club.
— Anne Warfield

» Tender, tough, complex characters living within the backdrop of a 1970s St. Louis. Much of this book still rings true to the struggles St. Louis faces with race, division and social stratification, yet it manages to move each character forward with glimpses of a new possible future.
— Patsy King

[favorite]
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

[up next]
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Pictured, front: Holland Saltsman, Anne Warfield, Patsy King. Back: Cyndi Demick, Edward Huff, Sarah Dickerson
Photo: Bill Barrett

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