John Stokdijk has been a fan of nonfiction ever since he was a teenager living in Calgary, Alberta.
Being the kind of person who tends to be involved with and contribute to the community that he lives in, Stokdijk the Ajijic Book Club a few years after he and his wife, Patricia, retired to Lakeside in 2012. “At last I could make a contribution to the community and do something that no one has done before in Ajijic,” he says.
The idea to start a nonfiction book club popped into Stokdijk’s head in early 2016. He proceeded to develop a website, distribute flyers, post notices on bulletin boards and advertise in the Guadalajara Reporter. The response was encouraging enough to call an initial meeting, which attracted 15 attendees. Clearly, his idea resonated with the community. One and a half years after that initial meeting, the club is thriving, with a special public event slated for October 10.
To get the group up and running, Stokdijk did it all – from selecting the books, leading the discussions and arranging the meeting place to sending out announcements and creating a membership list.
“I want this to be a member driven book club,” he says. “Any member can volunteer to lead a meeting and leaders have a lot of latitude as to how they want to lead the meeting. A leader is responsible for sending out a choice of three books, then members vote for one. Over time, we’ve moved the format to member selected books without restriction.”
Along with discussing books, the group has a social element as well, so members meet at restaurants where they have the option to order food and beverages. Some even opt to stay after the meeting in order to dine together.
Included in the book club are some locally published authors. Says Stokdijk: “Lakeside has plenty of fiction writers but, amazingly enough, we have seven books by seven local writers in the nonfiction category, each of whom still live in the area.”