Just three years ago Skylark Bookshop opened its doors with a plan to do more than just sell books. Their purpose was to build community within their walls. That’s why Alex George, owner of Skylark and a novelist, started planning for a book club at the local, independent downtown bookstore back in 2020. He envisioned friends, neighbors and strangers meeting together to discuss books, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
But the world had other plans, putting the launch on hold for about 18 months later than originally scheduled.
George first put feelers out via the Skylark blog and social media in May of 2021 to gauge interest in an in-person, regular book club that would take place in the shop. The response from customers and book lovers was overwhelming, speaking to the hunger for in-person events to resume. The planning commenced and ideas swirled about how to execute such an event. The shop’s top priority was for everyone to join safely and when the time was right, with appropriate health measures taken into consideration.
A virtual book club was a thought, but in George’s experience, virtual book clubs only work when they’ve already been established, so that option was thrown out. He wanted to create a space where customers could once again feel a sense of the community they’d longed for. In the meantime, the group was given a name: The Skylarking Book Club (Skylarking is the title of an album by the British band XTC, which is one of the reasons for using it. George’s father used to be their lawyer). The name stuck and as anticipation grew from loyal customers and book lovers alike, Skylark began planning for its first event.
Thus, Skylarking Book Club was brought to fruition on Thursday, September 30. They safely welcomed people who had been longing for community centered around literature. Author Gabriela Garcia joined the group via Zoom to discuss her debut novel Of Woman and Salt. It was the culmination of a long-cherished dream. Better late than never, they say.
Customers and book lovers of all kinds are welcome to join the upcoming Skylarking Book Club meetings. Attendees can expect a laid-back setting and an informal, low-key conversation initiated by a Skylark staff member. Each month, staff will select a newly released book they love. All genres will be considered including fiction, non-fiction, big titles and books that may have previously flown under the radar. Titles will be a mix of local and national authors. The intention is to continue to have an author attend each month, either in-person or remotely. There is no commitment necessary for joining the club — Skylarkers can simply choose to participate whenever the month’s selected book piques their interest.
Meetings will take place the last Thursday of every month at the bookshop at 6:30 pm, after the shop has closed. The only condition of membership is that readers purchase the book of the month from Skylark either in the shop, over the phone, or online. As usual, masks are required in the shop.
The Skylarking Book Club plans to meet next on October 28. Missouri-born author Melissa Scholes Young will be Zooming into the October meeting to talk about her book, The Hive. The novel is a family saga, set in rural Missouri. The date and book for November will be announced soon, and those interested can check the shop’s website and social media for updates.
For more information, visit Skylark at 22 S. 9th Street, Columbia, MO 65201. Their hours are Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. For more information visit skylarkbookshop.com/new-events or call 573.777-6990. Questions about book club can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.