booking collegiality

| 25 Jul 2016 | 02:04

When Stanley Ely first came across a Meetup group for a monthly book club geared to gay men, he thought, “That would never fly.”

Five years later, that downtown club is thriving. Ely was “proven wrong,” he said, so much so that its success inspired him to start his own book discussion group, the Third Tuesday Gay Men’s Book Club, which meets at Shakespeare & Co. on Lexington Avenue, near 68th Street.

“The quality and intelligence of the men has been remarkable,” said Ely, who is in his 80s. He added that it’s been gratifying to “have found a particular kind of collegiality in a men’s book group.”

The subject of the group’s most recent meeting, its third, on July 19, was Augustin Burroughs’ coming-of-age memoir, “Running with Scissors.”

That evening, 10 men sat in chairs arrayed in a half-circle in the bookshop’s downstairs space, each taking turns to discuss Burroughs’ 2002 bestseller. The majority gave the book a thumb’s down. Ed Terhume, though, liked it. “I had a fun time reading it,” he said.

Terhune has attended the downtown book club for about a year, and plans to continue to participate in both groups. The new club, he said, is “more intimate, with more of an opportunity to speak.”

The downtown club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Jefferson Market Library, on Sixth Avenue and 10th Street. That club’s founder, Jon Tomlinson, was delighted to learn of Ely’s Upper East Side effort.

“Ours is so popular that anywhere from 40-75 people attend,” Tomlinson, 51, said. “Now, there’s another option for a smaller group.”

“In fact, I’d love it if there were off-shoots in every neighborhood ... the more people reading, the better.”

Cesar Ramirez, who moved to Brooklyn from Mexico about a year ago, has attended all three of the Third Tuesday meetings. “One of the great things about being in a group like this is you get to learn things you may have missed and see other points of view,” Ramirez, 27, said of the discussions. While Spanish is Ramirez’ first language, he’s taken to reading mainly English-language books. In June, he led the discussion of Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man.”

Ramirez’ friend Keith Rada attended the past two sessions. “I love reading and talking about books. In addition, it’s a great way to bring a community together,” Rada, a student at Columbia, said.

The next two meetings of the Third Tuesday Gay Men’s Book Club will feature James Baldwin’s “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, on August 16, and Jamie O’Neill’s “At Swim, Two Boys,” on Sept. 20.

Ely, an author of six books, is looking forward. “I hope it continues to flourish and we bring in some men we haven’t met yet for great discussions,” he said. “Which we always do.”