An Uncommon Church Book Club – Heritage’s Babes with Books

 by Merely, the Scribe

Known for being raucous, ribald, and creating, on more than one occasion, a disruption to other groups using the church building by laughing too boisterously, Heritage’s Women’s Book Club is a churchwomen’s group like no other. Founded in approximately 1996 (records are a bit fuzzy on the exact date) this group has been meeting on the third Wednesday of every month from seven to nine p.m. for 28 or more years, with only a three-month gap at the beginning of the recent pandemic. This group prides themselves as being inclusive to all people who identify as women members and friends of HUUC. However, the group refuses to take itself too seriously.

The group started their history known officially as the “Heritage Women’s Book Club” but at some point started taking pride in their fabulous, bibliophile gender and nature by calling themselves “Babes with Books” or the BWB. Records indicate that the group has read and discussed over 300 books.

There is no “official” head of the BWB. Years ago, the group had a queen, Sara Curtis, who often presided over the group from her throne-like chair, dressed in white or cream regalia, while benevolently decreeing many of the book and movie selections. However, when she moved away, the group decided to honor her legacy by leaving that chair empty.

When their future reads list dwindled, the BWB began adopting, via an unofficial consensus, upcoming selections suggested by the members in attendance at meetings. No votes were/are required to make it on the BWB selected reads list. When faced with the immediate need for a selection’s change, an “executive decision” was/is made. Sometimes selecting the book becomes a guessing game when the person proposing it can’t remember the exact title, much less the author, but they think it was a good read, worthy of discussion. The group good-heartedly ribs the suggesting member with, “Yeah, you know that book about ‘I don’t know what,’ but it was really good!”

Merely, the Scribe, (the self-appointed record keeper) has the known list of historical and future selected reads, available on request – Merely can be reached at:

Merely began writing the BWB announcements seen in the Heirloom and on starting in 2006, when frustrated that the group often forgot or only shared the selection titles for the coming months via word of mouth. (At times, Merely is “lovingly” known as the “Book Nazi” when she tries to maintain some semblance of order in the selection process. That, she has slowly learned over time, is nearly impossible.) Now the group tries to make firm selections on future reads for the next three months, with later selections on the list being subject to modifications as their slotted time approaches.

The BWB has some “sacred” readings and documents. Their sacred text is The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne. This book provides many “words to live by” such as “never wear panties to a party” (due to the appearance of the “dreaded” panty line under pantyhose) and provides the honorary title of “Tammy” to any BWB member.

In terms of a sacred document, the BWB has an official pledge. The Babes recite it, as shown below, on special occasions.

Heritage Women’s Book Club Pledge

(aka Babes with Books, the BWB)

As a member of the Heritage Women’s Book Club I will . . .

  • Freely read, not read, or read and forget everything in any book.
  • Freely talk whenever any thought comes into my head regardless of how many others are speaking.
  • Freely change the subject at any time.
  • Freely laugh as often as possible and as loudly as necessary in order to distract any other groups meeting in the church.
  • Freely change the selected book on a whim.
  • Freely disregard the extensive list of books that Merely tirelessly provides.
  • Under no circumstances (I’m very serious about this one) criticize the Queen or the books or the movies she selects.


The BWB has few rules. They try to select books that will elicit discussion and can be gathered a month in advance of the selected read’s meeting date in sufficient quantities for the Heritage Book Club hold shelf at the Hamilton Library-Anderson Branch. The group prefers fiction, but will do non-fiction if it reads like a novel. A meeting attendee need not have read, completed reading, or even liked the selection for the month to attend, but they must be willing to hear “spoilers” about how it ends. (Some members are known for skipping to the last chapter to determine whether they want to finish reading it.)

A meeting often has multiple conversations occurring at once, but the group eventually reconvenes as a whole. Conversation topics often diverge from the book, especially about political figures – such as “he-who-must-not-be-named.” However, the discussion eventually returns to the book when someone calls out over the din, “Do we have anything more to say about the book?!” (Such diversions may occur several times during an evening.)

The BWB holds some special events over the course of the year. In December, the BWB holds a holiday party and screens a movie rather than discussing a book since it is felt that the holidays are too busy for many people to read. The movie selection follows the general procedure used to select a book. Some of the annual movie selections remain in BWB lore due to their goofy nature. In January, the BWB typically discusses a longer than average book, since they didn’t have a selected December read. In July and/or August, the BWB often holds a pool party/potluck(s) at a member’s house. Whether there is a selected read for those months is an annual matter of debate, since the book may not be discussed as a group at pool/potluck gatherings. Some Babes only attend the December and summer pool/potluck gatherings and that is completely acceptable.

Other, typical meetings usually consist of about a dozen members. Sometimes people bring snacks, related or not to the book, but not always. The BWB does not assign “snack duties.” (My first meeting was to discuss A Year in Provence and several people brought bottles of wine. I’ve stayed for approximately 20 years, which obviously says something about me.)

When a new person attends, the group first individually introduces themselves. Then they start by asking, via a show of hands, “Who read the book?” followed by, “Who liked the book?” None of the responses incurs any negative judgment and simply sets the tone for the discussion. Then the group jumps into the mayhem, discussing or not discussing the plot, characters, writing style, implications of the plot to their lives or society, and many other topics unrelated to the book. Although the meeting’s time slot is 7 – 9 p.m., if they run out of various things to discuss early, they adjourn, often around 8:30.

If this type of loving but flippant bedlam is your proverbial “cup of tea,” and you identify as a woman, then attending a BWB gathering might be something that you would enjoy every third Wednesday of the month from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Heritage Room, unless otherwise announced. However, many people (both men and women) prefer on their own to sample from their selected reads list. To learn about the future BWB selections, read the monthly articles in the Heirloom, on, in the weekly emailed Heritage Connection or Sunday worship service bulletins. Ask Martha in the office to put you on the “BabeswithBooks” Google group for additional communications, or ask one of the known Babes for more information. You will recognize the Babes as women with a bibliophile air, irreverent but respectful, and who laugh a lot.

Image source: