Smart Bitches With Reading Niches

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As Chaysen Olshansky walked into the crowded café just north of Beverly Boulevard, she scanned the room. Even though it was a Saturday morning and many people were out drinking coffee and working on their computers, she was lucky to find a space large enough to hold the women she was planning to meet.

Inside Bricks and Scones café, she sat down on the bench and placed her novel on the wooden table alongside a paper sign that read “Meet Up” on one side and “Smart Bitches Book Club” on the other. She waited patiently for her guests.

“Ah, a book,” exclaimed Sarah Jakle as she approached the table Olshansky was sitting at after noticing Ruta Sepetey’s “Out of the Easy” novel.

By 11 a.m. a few copies of the novel surrounded 10 women introducing themselves to one another as the book club began.

Sitting in a trendy coffee shop may seem like a typical pastime for a group of Los Angeles women. Book clubs are prevalent all over the world, and draw together millions of Americans each month. Networking website, Meet Up, offers thousands of opportunities – from Seattle’s “Reading Between the Wines” to Australia’s “Melbourne Nerd Dads” – for people to get together and discuss novels.

“I’ve always been a big reader, but I’ve never really had anyone to talk to the books about,” said Chaysen Olshansky, the host of the book club.

Olshansky started the Los Angeles book club in January and now has over 185 members. After joining a few book clubs she found on Meet Up, she decided to start her own, coining the name “Smart Bitches Book Club.”

Once a month, the group of women meet to discuss a predetermined novel. On Saturday morning, the ladies arrived excited to chat about “Out of the Easy,” and discuss the bestseller’s mysterious death and portrayal of lies.

“We always start off talking about the book. Did you like it? What didn’t you like? We talk about the characters, and then we just go off on tangents,” Olshansky said.

Despite the book bringing these women together to discuss any underlying questions that the readers are left with, the conversation took a complete turn as the women began sharing the details of their personal lives.

Upon first glance one might think these women did not look like they had recently met. However, after listening to their giggled profanities, one’s initial thought would immediately replace their association as close friends.

From dog walkers and college students to mothers and lawyers, the group of women, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s, reserve a Saturday morning each month to come together.

“It’s great because everyone has different walks of life. People that wouldn’t normally encounter each other meet and bond over something cool,” said Jakle, a first time member.

An hour into the meeting, the women were exchanging contact information and making plans to get together outside of the book club. While this was the first time that many of the ladies had met, their bond quickly grew as they learned about one another and friendships were quickly established.

Olshansky, the host, said that all the women bring different opinions and their own take to the book, which makes the discussions fun. She believes that many of the women join the book club to discuss the books, but more importantly to make new friends.

The Smart Bitches usually gather at unique coffee shops similar to Bricks & Scones. (Jessica Oliveira)

The Smart Bitches usually gather at unique coffee shops similar to Bricks & Scones. (Jessica Oliveira)

Brittany DeVries, an LA resident of two years who is currently in between jobs, joined because of her newfound spare time.

“I think it’s a great way to meet new people, and a good way to vet people as well, which is hard in a city like Los Angeles, because it’s so big. I like the idea of getting around and getting to talk about something we’ve all recently experienced,” DeVries said.

Jakle also believes that the book club is a great way to meet new people. She began looking for clubs on “Meet Up” and says the name “Smart Bitches Book Club” is what instantly caught her attention.

“We don’t normally take the time out to talk about books in our normal conversations; often, it’s normally about movies or TV shows,” Jakle said as she explained her reasoning for joining the club.

Even though the book club primarily focuses on fiction novels, Olshansky, the organizer, tries to keep the books and meetings unique. Previous meetings have included author signings and movie premieres.

In December, the Smart Bitches are planning to read their first non-fiction novel and are currently planning a book exchange alongside bottomless mimosas.

While some men have sniffed around the club, the Smart Bitches have decided to stick with only female members. The ladies believe that the book club has not only grown their knowledge in literary pieces, but has been a great source for lively camaraderie.

Jakle said, “The women I’ve met are incredibly smart and incredibly funny, quirky and interesting. I would love for some of them to develop into friendships.”

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