Like a good dinner party, what I’m calling “gay book club” has a few critical ingredients — gay friends who like each other but don’t see each other that regularly, a space that’s comfortable enough to accommodate a group of eight or more for book discussion and the requisite post-discussion noodling around, very free-flowing booze, and (this is key) a smattering of new faces to keep it interesting. Everything else — having finished the book, snacks, straight women — is optional.
Let’s say you’re at a bar,” says Erik, a 30-year-old editor who’s in my book club, “you’re meeting people and just going by looks. But at book club, your intelligence and intellect are on display. It’s a different kind of mating dance.” Observing that romance will fly in a room of gay men is like discovering that water is wet, but the kind of attraction that blooms over discussion of a book is different than the kind that’s stirred on Grindr.
In one meeting you learn the kind of information about a person — their values and capacity for empathy, or their ability to engage differing points of view — that would take at least three dinners. Book-club meetings are effectively group speed dating. This article originally appeared on New York Magazine 2017