Meet Jennifer Holmes. She is the mother of five, has two dogs and works in the family business with her husband. In her double life, she also is host of the Girly Book Club’s Orange County, CA Chapter, which she started about a year ago.

If you speak with her for five minutes, there’s one thing that comes through loud and clear: she loves books. She says she reads one to two books a week, and last year read 120. “I also run a book club in my community, and I host a book club for women at a retirement home. I work on my own blog, and work on monthly service projects with my book club. I love attending author events and meeting other book lovers in this big community. This year I attended Book Expo in New York, which was awesome.”

Jennifer says most of the women in the Orange Country Chapter have very busy, high-powered positions. “We have a lawyer, professor, family therapist, doctor, author, and a few executives. What they have in common is they do a lot of reading for their jobs, so they love coming to the book club and reading for pleasure.” There are usually about 15 participants for each in-person meeting.

When Jennifer joined Girly Book Club, she said she really wanted to meet other women who loved reading as much as she does. “I reached out to [Girly Book Club Founder] Erin [Woodward] and told her I really wanted to start the Orange County Chapter. I loved the idea of being a part of a bigger group.  I wanted to have a book club that was fun, a place where women could enjoy their time away from their family, and walk away feeling cared for, heard, and refreshed.”

“Anyone who knows me knows I have a genuine love for reading. I love to share my passion, and have been known to turn a non-reader into an avid reader just with my persuasive ways.

“I love spending time with my group, watching friendships form, and seeing women grow more confident each month in our discussions.”

What book has caused the most heated discussion in the group? Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

“It was the loudest discussion for sure. Women who normally sit back and listen were getting involved in the discussion! I think this is one of the books that 98 percent of the group liked, and really got into the discussion.”

Jennifer says that friendships made through the chapter extend beyond the monthly meetings. “We have a Facebook page, and it helps us stay in touch throughout the month. I post book-related articles, we’ll share information about TV series/movies that are related to books, and events that are coming up that we all want to attend. Many of the girls get together throughout the month; we have a bonfire coming up next month!”

Who would Jennifer be if she could be any fictional character? “I loved The Bookshop On The Corner by Jenny Colgan. The main character, Nina, is a librarian with a knack for finding the perfect book for her readers. When the library she works at is forced to close, Nina makes a life-changing decision to buy a big bus and turn it into a mobile bookstore. After reading the book, one of the girls in my book club told me that Nina reminded her of myself, that I’m always recommending books!”

Reflecting on the joy of the book club, Jennifer said, “The girls who come to the book club want to be there; they have busy lives and some travel for work, but they all make the time to come each month because they get so much out of it. Everyone is so welcoming, and we have so much fun each month. Laughter is guaranteed!”

“I always tell the girls that even if our monthly book pick is not something you’d normally read, read it anyway, you may be surprised you’ll discover

something you didn’t know you’d like. I never read historical fiction before we read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and it opened my eyes to a whole new genre that I really enjoy now.”

She added, “We’re very flexible; if you can come one month, but not the next, that’s okay. If you don’t feel comfortable coming in new, don’t worry, I can meet with you before the meeting starts. We usually have one or two new girls each month, so you won’t be alone. You’ll want to invite friends and come back again.”

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