by Lorie Lewis Ham
We’ve all heard of book clubs, and often see photos of people enjoying books and coffee, or books and tea, but what about books and beer? Marissa Raigoza is part of a group that asked that same question and came up with Books, Beers, and Buddies in Fresno who meet at Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen. KRL took some time to sit down and chat with her about this interesting idea.
KRL: What exactly is Books, Beers, and Buddies?
Marissa: We are a silent reading group for adults. It’s like the SSR (Sustained, Silent Reading) that you enjoyed in elementary school. Remember those 10 minutes of quiet silent reading time incorporated into the school day in which you were able to just sit and read any book of your choosing for the mere pleasure of reading and pursuing your own interests? It’s that, but in a pub and in the company of other book-loving people that share your love of reading. Throw a beer into the mix and it’s almost like a party. Who said reading had to be a solitary sport? Who said it should only be done alone, in a library or a coffee house? We figure by coming together to share a beer and light conversation before reading time, reading can actually be a very social event.
KRL: Is this something being put on by Goldstein’s or is that just the venue?
Marissa: Goldstein’s is just the venue, but we are so grateful they opened the doors to us and let us start meeting there to read. Recently, they have started promoting the event on their Instagram page. They’ve embraced our events and nurture our reading habits. Goldstein’s is a very down-to-earth and artsy space. The vibe is perfect and they are very welcoming.
KRL: What is your role with this group?
Marissa: I guess you could say I’m the original host and initiator of this literary movement. I didn’t have to fly solo for too long into this endeavor, however. Eventually the path brought me to Benjamin Woodcock, who was sitting at a table with a book and a few friends and a smiley face when the meeting was held at Goldsteins for the first time. He is now the co-host and the one in charge of the Facebook Page for our group. I say that Ben and I were destined to be friends and I am so grateful that our paths crossed. Ben has been instrumental in the group’s evolution. We are united by a love of reading and a desire to foster an environment for bibliophiles, introverts, extroverts, beer-sippers, and anyone with a book who would like cool company while reading. It’s fun to bring our books, unite and share space, conversation, and ultimately, make lasting friendships.
KRL: How did you come up with the idea?
Marissa: I was reading an article in Poets & Writers Magazine in which it described Social Silent Reading groups that were sprouting all over the country. I was intrigued by the idea. I remember the question posed in the article was something to the effect of (and I paraphrase) “Imagine walking into a pub and seeing a room full of people reading and enjoying a beer?” Apparently, this was a thing in other cities. I felt that Fresno needed this too. An introvert myself, I had to gather my wits and throw myself out there to see who, if anyone, would show up to join me if I created a public event and put it on Meet-up and eventually Facebook. Luckily, there were others that wanted to read and sip in good company. We’ve been meeting at least monthly ever since. Now we’ve increased the meetings to twice a month.
KRL: Does it have to be a specific book, or can you bring any book?
Marissa: You can bring any book to read. We share the titles of our books and what we’re reading during the first half hour then we go silent and read whatever book we each chose to spend the afternoon with.
KRL: Does the reading take place just at the tables or is there a comfy area there for reading?
Marissa: We usually meet at the big round table near the door since it’s meant for a large group and it’s a great place to talk. However, we do see people reading and sipping a beer at the bar or on the “shopping cart chairs” that are near the boat, which has been converted to a table. It’s a very creative space. We invite everyone to come join us at the table or near the table, but it’s optional. We have a few people that show up to read and sip a beer and prefer to enjoy their book and beer in solitude too. We respect that.
KRL: What if you want to go but you don’t drink beer? Can you get a soda or something else?
Marissa: Yes, Goldstein’s pours Kamboucha and they have soda and water for sale too. There’s something for everyone!
KRL: When was the first event?
Marissa: I was trying to trace when the first Books, Beers, and Buddies event took place. I found a picture that dates back to June of 2017. Initially, the events were publicized on the Meet up app and the meet up location kept changing until we found our permanent reading home at Goldstein’s.
KRL: Wow I had no idea it had been going on that long, I only noticed it recently on Facebook. Have you gotten a lot of responses?
Marissa: Yes, I think once I moved the event announcements to Facebook, more people were able to see them, more people showed an interest in joining us. Then Ben did his magic and started a page for the group so now we have a virtual space on social media. I’m so grateful for Ben and his initiative. It gets the word out. Ideally, we’d love to see Goldstein’s filled with Books, Beers and Buddies enthusiasts.
KRL: Is this going to be an ongoing thing?
Marissa: Yes, we hope to keep this going for as long as we can. Come join us! We meet twice a month. Anyone that is interested can like our page on Facebook and be in the know about all of our reading events.
KRL: Do people need to let you know they are coming or can they just show up?
Marissa: They can just show up. We love to see new faces and we love to see returning familiar faces. It’s low key and no pressure whatsoever. New attendees should find the Books, Beers and Buddies sign. We display it on the table and if you have a book, you have a seat!
KRL: How often does this take place?
Marissa: It takes place twice a month. Roughly, the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Our agenda is easy: We meet at 2 for socializing, go silent at 2:30 and read until 4 when the spell is broken and we close our books and our tabs.
KRL: Details of upcoming events?
Marissa: We will meet on Saturday, February 22 from 2 to 4 at Goldstein’s and then on March 7.
This sounds like a lot of fun! I hope to have time one of these days to go check it out for myself!
Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen
1279 N Wishon Ave, Fresno, California