FADS come and go... but some endure.

Back in the day, book clubs were all the rage. Many were formed and many folded but one has been a shining beacon of success.

The Appetite Book Club, of Colchester, is just one such group.

And founder Jo Coldwell, of Red Lion Books, maintains the club’s success stems from its members, not the books.

Jo originally founded the Appetite Book Club in 2007, which she has kept written on a book mark to save the date.

The club was initially formed to bring customers to her friend’s café, Appetite Café in Colchester.

The café closed within a year, however, the book club grew with Jo getting by whilst running the book club in her back garden, borrowing a tent from a friend.

The club now attracts 70 members per month with an extensive mailing list of more than 500 which includes former members, people who wish to know what the club is reading and non-members who simply love books.

The club either meets at the Church Street Tavern, or the Officers Club in Colchester.

Members bond, discussing this month’s book, whilst enjoying a glass of wine and a meal.

Seats are swapped with each course to stimulate new conversations and mix the group up.

On the club’s popularity, Jo said: “The club is popular not just because of the books, but the people. What makes it popular is that you don’t have to commit.

“It is always there so people can pick up where they left off.”

The social aspect of the Appetite Book Club proved so strong that two former members even ended up marrying after meeting at one of the monthly meals.

The club continued to thrive during lockdown with monthly Zoom meetings. Jo even managed to source authors to turn up and speak on their books.

AK Blakemore, who wrote The Manningtree Witches, which won the 2021 Desmond Elliott Prize, featured on the Zoom meetings.

Rachel Joyce, who won the French Literary Award for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry also appeared in one of the monthly meetings during lockdown.

During this period, the club found many new members who enjoyed the experience of the Zoom book club.

Jo was also involved in community activities during this period with her house even becoming a speakeasy for literature.

Jo would leave a cupboard in her front garden full of books, people could knock on the cupboard, leave their money and then pick up a book.

On how the club adjusted to lockdown, Jo said: “It was very exciting. It gave people something to look forward to, and kept people connected. It kept social webs going.”

The Appetite Book Club has appeared twice on television and will appear again on Sky Arts, next week.

The club has already featured on Loose Women and had a cameo on a separate programme, discussing 50 Shades of Grey.

On this, Jo joked: “It was horrible and embarrassing. I promise that 50 Shades is not our kind of book. We are far more literary.”

Besides the Appetite Book Club, Jo runs several children’s book clubs at Red Lion Books in Colchester, for children aged seven to ten, 11 to 13 and 14 upwards.

On the Appetite Book Club, Jo said: “People think it’s about the books, but it’s all about the people.

“We will continue to build the daytime book club as well as the children’s club.

“The current children are growing up – so we are looking for new ones.”