No-Obligation Book Club
You love curling up with a classic novel. You love talking with friends about the latest Jodi Picoult bestseller. But you can’t stand the obligations of a book club. (What time? What place? Who’s bringing the chip dip?)

We feel your pain. That’s why has started the No-Obligation Book Club.

No time frame, no deadlines, no obligations: just the pleasures of reading good books, as suggested―and led―by Real Simple editors. The goal is to get the benefits of a book club...without feeling overwhelmed by rigid schedules.

Recent Posts By No-Obligation Book Club

Have You Voted for June’s Book?

Voting ends this Sunday, May 24, so make sure to vote for one of the following selections if you haven’t had a chance to yet:

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Water for Elephants: Chapters 7 to 15

Phew! I made it through Chapters 7 to 15 of Water for Elephants, and I have to say the story had me on edge in quite a few places. How about you? I got quite caught up in the tale of Jacob Jankowski this week. One minute I was hot and bothered at something cruel August or Uncle Al did, and a few pages later I was relieved Rosemary (elderly Jacob’s caregiver) was back on the scene.

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Water for Elephants: Chapters 1 to 6

Hi, all:

I read Chapters 1 through 6 (including the prologue) of Water for Elephants and really enjoyed them. How about you? I could hardly believe the unfortunate to horrific events that kept happening to Jacob Jankowski. Good grief, young Jacob: loses his parents in a car accident, finds out they were totally broke, has the bank foreclose on the family home—and take everything in it—drops out of veterinary school, and gets mixed up with a low-end traveling circus that makes him sleep on dirty, smelly blankets and feeds rotten food to its animals. The older Jacob is miserable living in an elder care facility: He hates the food (calls it pap) and doesn’t particularly like the help or other occupants (he called one gentleman a liar), and was forced to take medication against his will. Were you surprised at all at what kept going wrong for this guy? I was. I was also impressed by his will to keep getting up—blow after blow—and keep pressing on.

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Vote for Your June Choice

Melissa Parrish,’s director of community strategy, will lead the group next month. What will you be reading? Pick your favorite of the three books and—for the first time!—one play below by Sunday, May 24.

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Water for Elephants : An Introduction


I’m Jackie Monk, and I’m the deputy managing editor of Real Simple. What does that mean? Well, at Real Simple it means I’m in charge of making sure the trains run on time and on budget. In other words, I set and enforce deadlines and manage the money. I have done so for almost eight years.

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My Abandonment: Peter Rock Answers Your Questions

Drumroll, please. Author Peter Rock has responded to our questions—and has sent a personal message to you, the members of the No-Obligation Book Club. Enjoy! —Jaimee Zanzinger First, thanks so much for choosing and for reading my book. It’s heartening to think that all that time I spent alone, in Caroline’s mind, might have entertained or provoked people I don’t […]

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And Your May Book Is . . .

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen’s tale of a 21-year-old veterinary student who ditches Cornell to join the circus. Please join Real Simple’s deputy managing editor, Jackie Monk, later this week as she introduces herself and the book.

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Have You Voted for May’s Book?

Voting ends on Sunday, April 26, so pick your favorite of these four books, if you haven’t already:

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell: Why do some people succeed while others never reach their full potential? Gladwell builds a riveting case that “superstars” are the beneficiaries of hidden advantages—some deserved, some not, some earned, some just lucky.

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My Abandonment: The Conclusion (Spoiler Alert!)

Wow. Where to begin? (Note: I’m going to be vague here instead of revealing major spoilers; I always feel bad for the author/screenwriter when they’re splashed all over the Internet.)

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My Abandonment: Chapters 3 to 5

Thanks for your comments on the first two chapters. Many of you seem to agree with Marilyn’s post about wanting to rescue Caroline. I, too, felt that strongly as I read the next three chapters. It broke my heart (and “my heart,” I guess) when Father forced Caroline to leave the farm. During their time at Mr. Walters’, Caroline—more than ever—was letting us in emotionally (“I can almost not believe how lucky we are,” she revealed). You could feel her excitement when she talked about everything from her new clothes to the non-powder milk. I hadn’t sensed that at all in her forest narration.

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