Episode 1. Did you know that the Pfister has its very own book club?

I love books. All books. Anywhere and everywhere. I love the way they stretch across borders and speak in many languages. The way they sit on shelves and lay on floors. The way they smell. And take me to places near and far. The way the words fall into place, sometimes so devastatingly and beautifully, that they stay with me. Long after I have reached the end.

Nicole loves books too. She remembers the stacks her mother would bring her when she was just a little girl. The oldest of six she went on to be an english major, a writer, the 10th Pfister Narrator (I am the 12th), and the founder of the Pfister’s one-of-a-kind bookclub.

When Nicole began her own one year residency as the narrator, she set out to bring her love of books and reading to the Pfister.

“For me, it was the best job in the world because I got to hang out in a beautiful place, talk to people, and then write their stories. I wanted to make the Pfister known as a literary hub in Milwaukee.”

She wanted it to be a “literary hub” not just for the elite and serious reader but for everyone, readers and book lovers of all kinds. She wanted it to be a book club for the community, where friends would gather and strangers meet.

“My idea was to open up the Pfister to people who live in Milwaukee and  thought of it just as a destination for overnight guests, and not for locals. I felt like book clubs tend to be where you already know somebody or the whole group. And I wanted a book club where nobody knew anyone else, and so I opened it up to the community. We have big round tables to sit down and talk to people that you may never see again about a book, and I think it makes the conversations really interesting.”

But perhaps what makes the Pfister’s book club even more unique is its desserts. Yes, desserts! Every month Nicole and Pastry Chef Travis come together to create the perfect dessert— one inspired by the books themselves. Nicole gives Chef Travis little ‘tidbits’ about the book and then he turns those ‘tidbits’ into something delicious like a russian cake for “A Gentleman in Moscow” or a show-stopping ice-rink of sugar made to look like ice and snow for “The Snow Child.”

With her nightstand lost in books, sometimes 50 at a time, Nicole is constantly reading. Searching for the perfect book she reads or listens to at least 3 to 5 books at a time. She loves lyrical writing. And creative non-fiction. But she always reads with her fellow book lovers in mind. Choosing books that take them to places both known and unknown. 

Two years later, the Pfister is now a place where up to 90 people gather for books, something sweet, good conversation and so much more. It has become a home away from home. And a place where strangers become friends.

“Who you are I do not know, and yet perhaps I know something. I know that like me you wake up each morning to a day that you must somehow live, to a self that you must somehow be, and to a mystery that you cannot fathom if only the mystery of your own life.” 

It is not surprising that it is this quote Nicole shares with me as one of her favorites from “The Alphabet of Grace” by Frederick Buechner. Of this book, she says: 

“This book just moved me so much. It is a poetic reflection on a single day.  If I were to summarize it, it is that there is grace in the mundane things of life. The writing is so beautiful, this book just caught me so off-guard. It just stopped my heart. It is thinking through how beautiful each of our days are and the grace that comes in breakfast and little things.”

It is this feeling — a connection to our own humanity— that we seek and can find in a good book.  It is this feeling that when found is better shared. It is this feeling, I have found on the streets of India. And it is this feeling that you will find at the Pfister’s book club.