By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jan 25, 2023 at 12:01 PM

This new series will hopefully make Milwaukeeans smile. When Nicole Mattke started Cream City Book Club she wanted to create something different. Most book clubs are comprised of women who already know each other and get together to chat about life, drink beverages and discuss literature. Often in that order.

Although Mattke supports reading groups of all kinds, she wanted to organize one with members of all genders, ages and backgrounds who enjoyed ebooks, physical books or audio books.

And so she did.

The Cream City Book Club features about 40 members of varying demographics who didn’t know each other prior to attending.

book clubX

“I felt it would bring special insight to book discussions if they are open to anyone in the community and you never know who you will sit next to,” says Mattke.

The members also range from non-readers who want to get into reading to light readers who want to read more to routine readers of books, tablets or audio books.

“I also wanted to create a book club that is welcoming to all types and levels of readers, with questions I craft to be fun, challenging and engaging for everyone – not just ‘literary’ types,” says Mattke.

Sound interesting?

Cream City Book Club meets the second Wednesday of every month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at The Starling, 102 N. Water St. "“How to Speak Whale: A Voyage into the Future of Animal Communication” by Tom Mustill is scheduled for February.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite for $20 and include a glass of wine. Extra drinks and sometimes food – depending on the month and The Starling's staffing – are available for purchase.

Grab a ticket here.

“It begins with the author's true experience of kayaking and being landed on by a breaching humpback whale – and surviving,” says Mattke.

Mattke chooses myriad kinds of books including classics, mysteries, intriguing nonfiction, character-driven literary novels and new/buzzy titles. 


“To be chosen for book club, a book has to be provocative or deep enough to allow me to write multi-layered discussion questions that everyone will enjoy talking about," says Mattke. "I also try to choose titles that most attendees won't have read and vary what we read month to month to keep the selections exciting.”

Mattke says the book club not only rallies people from different walks of life, but it also inspires them to read beyond their usual genres.

“We can easily get stuck in reading ruts, and book clubs open up so many amazing titles and collective ideas one reader wouldn't have come up with on their own,” she says.

Mattke publishes her selections at least two months before the meetup so people have time to get the books/audio books from their local library, book shops or online.

“Cream City Book Club is open to anyone in the community, and discussing books with others we don't know brings unique insight to the texts and more joy to reading," says Mattke.

Matte, an avid, lifelong reader who also served as the Pfister Narrator from 2017-18, is looking to expand Cream City Book Club in 2023 and is particularly interested in recruiting members in their 20s and 30s.

"I hope anyone with even a passing interest in reading will give Cream City Book Club a try. It’s a unique and really energizing group," she says. “I love that we are building a community of people who love and prioritize reading and have the grace to discuss books and ideas with anyone."

Follow Cream City Book Club on Instagram and Facebook.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.