When Bajah’s Cat Cafe opened in Tiverton last year, the staff at Tiverton Public Library racked their brains about how they could justify a group visit to the new business…staff meeting at the cat cafe, anyone? Luckily, the cafe’s owner, Amanda Souza-Viera, contacted the library about hosting a book group at the cafe.
The business consists of a cafe area, serving fresh local coffee, baked goods, and cat-themed gift items, and Bajah’s Villas - a room where cats from local animal shelters live until they are adopted. Patrons can reserve time in the cat room to interact with the cats. Since opening in May 2021, almost a hundred cats have found homes after spending time with patrons at the cafe. Deb Estrella, Tiverton Library’s Adult Services Librarian, was excited about the idea of hosting a book group there – even more so when she learned the discussion would take place in the cat room!
The group meets once a month in Bajah’s Villas to discuss a different cat-themed book. The group alternates between fiction and nonfiction, and has even discussed middle-grade books. The library secures copies of the book to be discussed for patrons to pick up at the library or the cafe. At the beginning of the meeting, Amanda talks about the cats who are staying in the Villas that month. The program is free and open to the public, but guests are welcome to purchase a drink or treat while they participate in the group. And, should the conversation lag, there are always the cats.
"I think reading is very important, and I believe book groups are fun and beneficial,” says Amanda. “They bring a community together where individuals can learn and discuss something that matters to them. Having the meeting with cats definitely encourages this as well. Partnering with the Tiverton Library has been such a great experience! Deb has really grown the group and makes each meeting interesting with her discussion topics about the books. We have received lots of positive comments about how well Deb interacts and gets people engaged."
“This has been such a fun book group to organize and be a part of,” said Deb. “It has allowed us to meet and develop relationships with residents in the northern part of town as well as folks just over the line in Massachusetts. Some have even come from Connecticut. We are proud to support a new business in town…and you can’t beat an afternoon spent talking about books with a cup of tea surrounded by napping cats.” In April, the group will meet to discuss Murder Past Due by Miranda James.