The first New Zealand chapter of one of the fastest growing clubs in the world has opened in Oamaru.
The Tough Guy Book Club is a network of book clubs for men who meet monthly to discuss a book and life in general.
Started in Melbourne about eight years ago, the club now has 36 chapters, in Australia, Britain and the United States.
The Oamaru chapter was started by Gavin Baumber, an Australian who moved to the North Otago town in October last year.
He was a member of the first Brisbane branch of Tough Guy Book Club, and also set up a chapter in nearby Redlands.
The book to read each month was the same for all chapters, and suggested discussion points were also the same at each chapter’s meeting.
“Moving to a new town, I thought to meet people’, which has been really positive,” Mr Baumber said.
“We have had quite a few chapters grow really, really large. Once they get above 20 members they normally break off.”
Described as “a fight club for your mind”, the club has limited, but strict, rules.
The first was a “no dickheads” rule, he said.
“The mottos of Tough Guy Book Club are: one, we don’t talk about work because, you are more than your job.
“The other thing is that you turn up, whether you have read the book, a page of the book, or whether you haven’t even picked it up, we want you to come along.”
Among plenty of other book-specific questions, every week there would be a discussion about whether the male protagonist was a “good bloke”, which lead to discussions about what that meant for men, he said.
As the books were often vastly different, it got people out of their reading comfort zone, he said.
It was also a good way to meet people from all walks of life, and forget about the pressures of work, he said.
“You should be coming along and celebrating the good things, like your family,” Mr Baumber said.
“And if you’ve got some s*** things that are happening, feel free to bring them up, because you never know, someone might be going through it or been through it and be a good ear for it.”
The Oamaru chapter meets on the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm at The Last Post restaurant. Each event would have a Facebook listing, Mr Baumber said.
Next month’s book is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.