Parties where playwrights like Moliere read aloud
were precursors to rowdy book clubs.
Book clubs are supposed to be about reading and discussing books but the ones I've belonged to have tended to involve more wine-fueled gossip than thoughtful discussion about books. It turns out it’s always been this way.
This poem written by Charles Shillito in 1788 depicts “The Country-Book Club” where members gathered to “taste the sweets of lit’rature—and wine.”
Thus, meeting to dispute, to fight, to plead,More here
To smoke, to drink—do anything but read—
The club—with stagg’ring steps, yet light of heart,
Their taste for learning shown, and punch—depart.