Local book club mixes reading with friendship and a lot of laughter

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG) - Once a month, a group of Bay County women gather at a local restaurant to chat, and not just chat about anything, but to discuss characters, plots, and settings in the latest piece of literature they just read or listened to.

The book club meets at Shane’s Rib Shack in Panama City Beach once a month to do it. They've been together for almost nine years.

“We do try and pick books that we hadn’t read before, so we’re reading it for the first time which is really great," said member Katie Cherry. "We start reading a book and then you get an email, ‘I’m so sorry... [the book was not good.']’”

Generally, someone chooses a book to read or listen to, and then they all meet to talk about its merits and/or shortcomings.

“We have differing opinions," said member Angela Hawes. "Sometimes we’ll say I couldn’t stand this book, I thought this book was terrible, and Barb [Barbara Sarber] will be like, ‘I love this book. This is a love story.’”

And nothing is out of bounds it seems. A while back they read "50 Shades of Grey."

“And we’re willing to try anything,” said a laughing Cherry.

On this particular night, they came to discuss a same-sex romance novel entitled "On Davis Row."

"[The character] CJ’s hot!" said a laughing Hawes. "I mean look at the picture on the cover!”

“It’s enjoyable," said member Rebecca Kelly. "[Although] it’s ‘harlequinny’ in some ways, [and] a little surfacy.”

“That’s [the age] where you really develop your idea of what love is,” said member Marilyn Agee.

“They accepted him [CJ] for what he was,” said Sarber.

“He [CJ] never fought back," said Kelly. "So he was passive in that way where his father beat up on him and he knew he probably could overcome his father physically but he never did.”

“Small towns traditionally would not be as accepting of a gay couple,” adds Agee.

The book had a happy ending. Most gave it a 7 or 8 on a 1-10 scale.

“I actually learned some things," said a laughing Hawes. "There were some things I was like I didn’t realize that’s how it worked.”

The ladies come from all different backgrounds, but one thing they can all agree on: they all love books.