Every month on the top floor of the Austin Central Library, you will find a group of nearly 20 people passing around buttons, toting around books and, of course, discussing their all time favorite murder stories.
Maggie Bond and Julie Brown are the two crime-loving librarians in charge of the Austin Central Library’s new true crime book club. The club meets once a month to eat snacks, share stories and discuss a crime-centered book of the pair’s choosing.
According to Bond, she and Brown decided to create the book club after discovering a shared love of the hit comedy podcast, “My Favorite Murder,” and as a way to dispel some of the negative connotations surrounding true crime fanatics.
“I think that true crime is having a moment right now so part of it is to take
advantage of something that we love and that is growing increasingly popular,” Bond said. “I do still think true crime, just like romance, is stigmatized.”
One true crime fan, Dorothy Hosik, said that while she has always been open about her interest in the creepy world of crime, it can sometimes be hard to find others who share her passions.
“I feel like there are a lot of people that don’t like it and it’s okay that they don’t like it, but they kind of think you’re weird for being interested in it,” Hoskin said. “To be able to sit with a group of people and say, ‘I like to think about what makes a serial killer tick,’ it’s, I don’t know, it’s just nice to have that kind of friendship.”
It’s not hard to understand why topics like serial killers, gruesome murders and horrific crimes might make some shy away from the true crime genre. According to Brown, knowing your limits and being able to find the humor within stories is key to enjoying both the book club and the genre.
“I think it’s important to have a sense of humor about it.” Brown said. “I think that is what partially what gets people comfortable with talking about it, but I think by asking people what there limits are that’s a good way to get a sense of how people feel.”
Both women also mentioned that they don’t plan on just talking about murder in the book club, but also discuss broader social issues that apply to the cases.
“So one of the things that we do want to do with the true crime book club is to spend a lot of time talking about gender, talking about politics, talking about the social aspect surrounding those crimes, issues with the criminal justice system,” Bond said. “These are all things I know we’re going to touch on.”
In addition to integrating social issues into their book club, Brown also discussed how important it was for the both of them to choose books that were well written, properly researched and respectful to the victims and the crime.
“We don’t want it (the book) to be like a Dateline NBC episode between two covers,” Brown said. “We want it to be a little more literary and well researched.”
As for the future of the book club, Bond said they have nearly 30 books lined up and look forward to getting the word out to more fellow true crime lovers.
“If you have a fascinating book and fascinating people that’s really all you need,” Bond said.