Five Favorite Book Clubs in Phoenix

Categories: Literary

​Book clubs aren't just for Oprah. From some new arrivals on the reading scene (including our own Chow Bella Book Club) to the trailblazers who started it all, we're rounding up some of the best of the Valley's book clubs for your consideration.

"Phoenix is really beginning to come into its own in terms of book clubs," says Karen Stigers, who moderates the Phoenix Divas Book Club out of Changing Hands Bookstore, which hosts 45 registered book clubs centered around everything from Witchcraft to Buddhism to Sci-Fi.

"I think part of it is that people are really hungry for some sort of intellectual stimulation now," says book club veteran Patrick Millikin with The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale. "And it's a cheap easy way to get together and discuss intellectual matters."

We'll furrow our brow to that. Here are five local book clubs you'll want to read up on ... 


1. Phoenix Divas Book Club

Don't let the name deceive you, the ladies in this book club are serious about reading. Although the original reading list for the Changing Hands-sponsored club included "a lot of chick lit," Karen Stigers, the founder and organizer of the group, says the women quickly decided that that wasn't what they wanted to read.

Now, this small group of about 10 women (yes, all women) meets each month at Wildflower Bread Company to discuss their most recent read. While they try to choose books by female authors, Stigers says they also like to read local authors (who often come to talk to them at their monthly meetings), and just about any other book that strikes their fancy.

This month, it's Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. They'll be discussing it over dinner and dessert at Wildflower Bread Company, 4290 East Indian School Road in Phoenix on Wednesday, October 12 at 6:30 p.m. Email Karen at for details.

2. Coffee & Crime Club

About 15 years ago, Barbara Peters, the owner of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale started a book club centered on her favorite genre: Mystery. Peters is also the founder of The Poisoned Pen Press, which specialized in mystery fiction, so the focus is no coincidence.

The club meets the second Saturday of each month at the bookstore, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Right now, the group of about 20 regulars is reading Martha Grime's The Horse You Came in On

You can join in at their next meeting, on November 13 at 10:30 a.m.

. Book Notes

KBAQ, the Valley's resident classical music station, just announced that they are partnering up with Changing Hands to start their own book club, Book Notes, which will focus on books about - you guessed it - classical music!

But book notes isn't your typical face-to-face group chat over coffee. It's Changing Hands' first radio book club. KBAQ host Randy Kinkel will review a new biography, novel, memoir or monograph about the world of classical music on the first Friday of each month on air at 6 p.m. Later on, the station is aiming to expand the club by interviewing authors and artists and hosting performances by featured musicians on the monthly show.

October's book is My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music by Leon Fleisher and Anne Midgette. You can purchase each month's book at Changing Hands or on their website.

4. Hardboiled Crime Club

No, this book club doesn't have to do with eggs, hardboiled or otherwise. The Poisoned Pen's Patrick Millikin founded this group 12 years ago to delve further into his obsession with hardboiled crime fiction, the noir/detective kind of novels made famous by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in the 1930s. "I'm a real fan of that kind of edgy crime fiction," Millikin says, "and there's a small group of people that are just fiercely into it."

It's a cult following that's found a home on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the store's Scottsdale location. "I think the independent bookstores like Changing Hands and like ours are, in some ways, like a meeting center for like-minded odd-balls and book people," Millikin says. "It's just a place where they can go."

If you're a like-minded odd-ball, you can join in this month with their most current undertaking, Galveston: A Novel by Nic Pizzolatto. Millikin says new members are always welcome.

5. Chow Bella Book Club

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Our very own Chow Bella Blog and is about to embark on yet another kind of book club venture with Changing Hands: the on-line book club. Under the guidance of veteran food writer and Phoenix native Jennifer Woods, the Chow Bella Book Club will "meet" on the blog on the first Tuesday of every month to discuss, argue, banter, and respectfully chew over a book about food.

From memoirs to cook books to novels, we're looking for everyone who loves food, reading and reading about food to join in (and, if you do, you'll get a nice 20% off discount from Changing Hands).

There's still plenty of time to join in the first discussion. Woods will be kicking off the first discussion on November 1 at 7 p.m. about The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by writer/chef Kathleen Flinn. You can read more about it here and order the book on-line through Changing Hands here.  

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