Books and Brew offers new flavor to book clubs

2/17/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: February

East Forest Park Branch Library Reference Librarian Lizzie Meier and Springfield resident Taina Rivera developed the concept for the Books and Brew book club.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

Walk around your favorite bar and you’re bound to hear conversations on a wide range of topics.





Yes, you read that right – books.

At one popular Springfield watering hole stirring debate about the latest great read is exactly what you’ll hear.

Just this January, the East Forest Park Branch Library launched Books and Brew, a one-of-a-kind club that combines the casual atmosphere, hot food and cool drinks of your local bar with the appeal of good literature.

Books and Brew is the brainchild of Springfield resident Taina Rivera and East Forest Park Branch Reference Librarian Lizzie Meier, who developed the idea from a simple conversation over the phone into a well-attended event at Nathan Bill’s Restaurant and Bar on the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m.

“I was just looking for a book and I called for information and we both just got to talking,” Rivera recalled. “It’s my first time being part of a book club. I always wanted to get one going, but I never had any connections or knew how to get it going, so I guess I’m lucky I called and talked to Lizzie when I did.”

Meier, a native of Great Barrington, explained that when she worked in that town’s library system, there was a book group aimed at younger adults that met at a local bar and in talking with Rivera she grew confident there would be interest in a similar club in Springfield.

“It was great that Taina called when she did,” Meier said.

Both Rivera and Meier saw a niche that needed to be filled – one where Millennials could gather to share their love for reading.

“It’s good for people to get out of their houses, come to the library, read books and then get together,” Rivera said.

Other book clubs, however, didn’t offer the right combination of variables to be attractive to younger adults.

First and foremost, many Millennials desire a different, more casual setting according to Rivera.

“Nathan Bill’s has a great atmosphere for people to have conversations and open up to each other,” she said.

“It’s true because it’s so very different from say the library,” Meier agreed. “The library is very quiet, but here it’s nice to have the background noise and the music. It’s a place where I think people can be more mellow.

“I think that’s partly why we did it. A lot of Millennials don’t see themselves hanging out in a library for an event.”

What’s more, many Millennials simply can’t attend many book clubs, as they don’t cater to working adults.

“I like that it’s later at night because I think a lot of book clubs happen earlier in the day and it’s not really possible to attend,” Meier said.

When searching for a location the pair didn’t have to look any further than right next door. Nathan Bill’s, they said, was a perfect match.

Rivera noted, “It works perfectly because they’re right next door to the library!”

In addition to its proximity, Meier said the restaurant’s staff has been “super enthusiastic and really accommodating.”

“They’ve been great. I’m new to the area, but I’ve heard that Nathan Bill’s has always been great to the community. They were highly recommended by a bunch of other librarians.”

At its first meeting, Meier and Rivera found the group had a much wider appeal than expected. While originally aiming for Millennials specifically, Books and Brew attracted people of all different ages, something both women were excited about. Rivera said she saw a great opportunity to build generational bridges.

“I think a lot of people think the older generation and younger people can’t relate, but you can,” she said. “It’s a book, and so it’s something a lot of different people can have different views on. With people of different ages and different experiences, I think we’re going to have a lot of interesting conversations”

She added, “We’re really excited to get some questions going and some controversy.”

Meier also called Books and Brew a “nice alternative” because the participants aren’t required to pay for the books. Each month, those interested in joining can visit the Springfield City Library’s online calendar ( for information on that month’s literary selection and the books can be borrowed through the East Forest Park Branch or through the C/WMARS system.

“We always pick books where there are plenty of copies in the system,” Meier said.

Copies of the next month’s book are also available at the club’s monthly meeting with your library card.

The group will discuss “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng on March 1 and “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari on April 5.

Meier and Rivera compiled the initial list of possible books and the group voted on which they would read during first three months. After the vote resulted in a four-way tie, Library Commissioner David Maynard, who stopped by to say hello after hearing about the group earlier that evening, randomly drew the three winners. How books will be chosen in the future is still up in the air, Meier explained.

“We went back and forth for a couple of months to choose the books,” she said. “I think we’ll have to reevaluate what we do in the future. We’ll see what people are interested in. If they are happy with our choices we can keep picking, but people are always welcome to make suggestions.”

For more information on Books and Brew, call Meier at the East Forest Park Branch Library at 263-6836 or email her at

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