Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordcraft -- Reading groups for writers

About a year after seeking the support of writing groups, I realized I needed reading group support as well. I started the search at the bookstore in my neighborhood, and after a few blank looks and perusal of fliers posted in obscure locations, found the Foreign Authors Bookgroup. It’s changed locations at least three times since, as bookstores closed or decided they didn’t have space for us, but I keep going.

The core group has remained surprisingly stable, led, at least since my entry in late 2006, by Julia Carpenter. (See her blog, The Diligent Dilettante,, for examples of her many talents.) For the last several months, we’ve met at a restaurant, La Madeleine at 3906 Lemmon Avenue in Dallas’s Oak Lawn neighborhood.

Because several of us eat supper there, the restaurant is willing to let the group use a private room from 6:30 to 8 the first Tuesday of each month. However, you don’t have to eat there to join the book group. You only have to love reading and talking about reading.

The group reads eleven books annually. (The September meeting is a “nomination night” to present candidates for the next year’s reading.)

As the name suggests, the group reads books -- usually but not exclusively fiction -- by non-U.S. authors, or at least about non-U.S. cultures. This gives us latitude to consider works as varied as Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s The Voice of Hope, about Burma’s struggle for democracy; and Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol’s classic, Dead Souls.

We like variety, of cultures and genres, so not all the reading is heavy. February’s selection was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, about the trials of working for Henry VIII during the Boleyn days. And our summer reading will include The Keeper of Lost Causes by best-selling Danish thriller author Jussi Alder-Olsen. For more information, please contact us at

(Not sure foreign authors are your cup of chai? I found a wide array of book clubs at Add your city and search words “book clubs” or “reading groups” to find one right for you.)


Although the book is not particularly oriented toward writers, Julia shared a new venue for writers -- The Dallas Writers Journal,

Also -- Goldminds Press is seeking western, historical fiction, military fiction and memoirs. Its editor, Steven Anderson Law will speak at the Houston Writers Guild conference April 13-14. See his site, or for information. I mentioned Goldminds previously in this blog’s July 27, 2011, post, “Texas Tales at A Real Bookstore.”

Still in western mode, another small publisher, Moonlight Mesa Associates, opens its 2012 short story contest March 1. See for details. This year’s special requirement -- an Arizona setting.


  1. Thanks for providing a great local resource for writers in the DFW area.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I probably should have mentioned that some Dallas Writer's Garret groups, such as Vort Ting, are also effectively reading groups.