Nichols House and Gibson House Museums Unite to Launch ‘Read the Room’ Book Club

The Nichols House Museum and the Gibson House Museum have united to launch the “Read the Room” book club – the latest joint offering in a long history of collaborations between the two museums and one that came together as each realized the other was concurrently considering establishing a book club of its own.

“It’s a new program that came together serendipitously,” said Laura Cunningham, the Nichols House Museum’s curator of collections and education.  “The Nichols House Museum and the Gibson House Museum are in frequent communication, and it just so happens we were both thinking of starting a book club and decided it would be much more exciting, and would probably reach more people, if we combined our efforts.”

The “Read the Room” book club will meet twice a season (virtually this fall) for a group discussion, followed by a tour of the host museum, and each month’s book selection will reflect some aspect or theme of the host museum. The book club takes its inspiration from the literary salons once hosted at the Nichols House and the Gibson House, and participants can expect to read a mix of Victorian-era, contemporary fiction and some poetry.

“Lolly Willowes” by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926) will be the first reading selection for the book club’s inaugural meeting, which will be hosted by Nichols House Museum on Oct. 21. This is among Cunningham’s favorite books and one she personally selected for the book club.

“It’s a diamond in the rough if you will that I’m excited to share with more people,” Cunningham said, “and it lends itself well to the Halloween season, and I think resonates with the history of Nichols House.”

“The Bostonians” by Henry James (1886), hosted virtually by Gibson House Museum on Dec. 2, will follow as the next selection.

These titles are among what Meghan Gelardi Holmes, curator of the Gibson House Museum, described as a “whole roster of books in the queue – including some contemporary novels that deal with Victorian themes [that] we’re both so excited to bring this opportunity to the community.”

Holmes added, “The book club is perfect for a historic house museum, especially our museums – the Gibson House is the home of a Boston writer, and the occupants of both houses were smart, cultured people who hosted readings. We plan to connect the novels we choose to the interiors and the history of the house. We’ll do that virtually, at first, with the hopes of getting in person sometime in 2021. “

 Visit for tickets to the event and more information on the “Read the Room” book club.

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