Book groups in SE4, SE23 and nearby
Finding a group
I think the easiest way to look at this is by where the group meets. Leaving aside the workplace ones, there are three possibilities: in a library, in a pub/bar, or in people’s houses. For groups in Lewisham libraries there is a useful listing here, while for Southwark libraries look here.
Book groups are often promoted by the more female-friendly (or non-sport-showing) type of watering hole as a way of getting some people in early in the week. It’s perfectly legal to ask around the local bars that seem to fit this description: in the Crofton Park/Honor Oak Park area this would be Mr Lawrence, Jam Circus, Try, the Honor Oak pub. All of these have certainly had book groups at some time, and you can find more about Try Books! (the one meeting in Donde) here.
Otherwise you can look on the Internet. There are book-club-specific sites like bookgroup.info and movethat, and locality-specific ones like se23.com and Brockley Central. As well as just looking, you can post your own query on many of these sites. Quite a few groups have a presence on Facebook (only really useful if you belong to Facebook of course!). If you put ‘book club’ together with the area you’re looking for in there you might well find something. There are also some book groups to be found on meetup.com.
There are also free local magazines, or at least there were before the recession hit–SE4 Magazine seems to have disappeared completely. However, SE23 Magazine is still going and as of January 2013 had a listing for the SE4 Book Club on page 6.
As for the groups meeting in people’s houses, they tend to be quite well-concealed, so it’s probably down to looking on the Internet/in local publications as above.
When it comes to joining a group once you’ve found it, I think the main thing is just to go along and not to agonise about it–and if it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t go again! My other advice would be that if you find a group that agrees with you, try to go to every meeting. The reason for this is that once people have got to know each other they feel able to risk a moderate level of disagreement, while in the alternative you have a group of strangers hiding behind their glasses of wine and being polite to each other.
But what groups are there?
There are certainly some to be found on Facebook, and of course you have to register on FB to see the full details: the Honor Oak Book Club (inactive?), the Brockley Book Group (inactive?) and others whose pages have now disappeared. But there is now a more recent SE4 Book Club also on Facebook and
also in Jam Circus now in Mr Lawrence.
On meetup.com, we can find a Catford Book Club, which seems to be active as of September 2015.
There is also some evidence of a SE23 Ladies Bookclub, though it looks as though the groups on this site may be aspirational rather than actual.
Apart from Try Books! I don’t really know which groups are currently operative/accepting new members.
Do write to me with any corrections or new information; or if you have a query I might be able to help with.