When Sam Flores volunteered to host the New York Chapter of the Girly Book Club (G.B.C.), she had no idea what she was signing up for. But she’s never looked back.
As one would expect, the New York chapter is one of the network’s largest, with 3,500 members. Naturally, they can’t all attend the meetings, but a good mix of first-timers and returning women either pop in live or follow events online.
Flores, by day a digital advertising manager for Time Inc., exemplifies the typical New Yorker in so many ways when she’s not buried in a book: taking advantage of 24-hour access to stores, restaurants, people-watching, traveling and training for this fall’s New York City Marathon.
“My favorite part of the G.B.C. is witnessing the friendships that have formed within this community,” she says. “These powerful and intelligent women become true friends outside of the monthly meetings and carry their bonds out into weekend brunches, events around the city and even the occasional weekend getaway trips together.”
The NYC chapter is made up of a lot of transplants. “It’s exciting to hear from women born and raised in another state or even from another country,” Flores says. “Some of the greatest discussions have come out of our diverse backgrounds and hearing perspectives from around the world. The common thread is that everyone comes to New York for a reason — many land here looking for a new start, and the G.B.C. is often a way for them to find their footing in a big city.”
What motivated Flores to get involved in the first place? “To push myself to read faster!” She says she tries to read 20-25 books a year.
“I also wanted to find girlfriends that could meet up for brunches or text about work drama. I had these people, but for the most part they lived in other cities and I was craving that connection locally.
Now that I’ve found this group, I love welcoming new members each month and bringing them into our network. It’s also fun to catch up on the books and to recommend books to my co-workers and out-of-town friends. Sharing a book is really a unique experience, and I’m so happy to do that with others in my life, near and far.”
The book that caused the most heated discussion in the chapter? “Hands down, The Nix by Nathan Hill. It was either loved or hated by everyone in the group with no one in between. It’s literary fiction, which can be rather polarizing, and the length (over 700 pages) definitely turned some people off. Overall, it was an exciting discussion with everyone so impassioned!”
New York, as you’d expect, is full of meeting venues of all shapes and sizes, and you never know what might happen at a book club gathering. Flores recalls, “Last month, we shared a room with a few other diners in the back of a restaurant. Usually, this isn’t a big deal, but the couple behind us started a full-blown engagement photo shoot (with a professional photographer) at their dinner table. They were feeding each other French fries and cuddling – the whole shebang. Needless to say, I had a hard time staying focused while they were vogue-ing in the corner!”
We asked Flores who she would be if she could be any fictional character. “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for The Wizard of Oz since it’s an important part of my relationship with my mom, so maybe I’d be Dorothy. I still believe home is always inside of you and your family is where you make it!”
As for the book that changed her life, Flores says, “Most recently it was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Not only is it a captivating and humbling perspective of occupied France during World War II, but it is also a beautiful story of sisterly love and courage. The best part of this book for me was sharing it with the other book club members and talking about it with everyone in my life who would listen. The characters were so poignant I had a hard time leaving them on the pages when I went about my daily life. Not every book is easy to talk about with other people, and this one we could not stop discussing.”
In conclusion, to anyone considering joining the Girly Book Club’s New York Chapter, Flores could only say, “Just do it! You’ll discover books you’d never pick up on your own and make friends along the way – what are you waiting for?”
Interested in joining a Girly Book Club chapter in your neighborhood? Visit https://girlybookclub.com for everything you need to know!
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