Ten plus years ago I was very fortunate to have been invited to a book club. My work bestie had a book at a staff meeting and I asked her about it. She told me she was reading it for book club. I instantly thought how fun. I was really hoping she would invite me…..and she did. I have always been a reader. I was that kid under the covers with a flashlight, but I had never been in a book club. It seemed like an awesome way to do something I love and meet new people. I call this the nerd girl cocktail…1 part books, 1 part future friends and a dash of you can do this.
The first book I ever read for book club was The Kite Runner. Not my favorite book, but I read it and went to my first meeting. I had no idea what this was going to be like. I felt like the new kid on the first day of school. Everyone was super sweet and welcoming. The woman who hosted did a beautiful job. There were yummy treats and she provided the discussion questions. I had no idea what to expect and was happy to see structured questions….that tiny slip of paper somehow grounded me on the love seat.
I remember my question was not one I could really answer…truth be told I sort of skimmed the book. Not because I was in a rush, because I didn’t love the story, but I answered as best I could. Thank goodness this wasn’t a graded assignment! I remember sitting there listening and watching. I was thinking I like these ladies. It was and still is a group of women spanning a couple of generations. A few of them are related and related by marriage. So, I guess it would have been easy to feel on the outside of the circle, but I felt like I could do it again. Show up and share. Show up and give my thoughts and feelings about a book.
Making Memories and Friends
That’s what I did for about 8 years. Every 8 weeks or so we met. A different house, a different book and a different conversation. In the beginning I didn’t over share about my life. Who does that? New kids typically play it safe….well at least I did. I remember the first time I hosted I was a complete spaz. My house had to be perfect, my food had to be perfect and the book questions had to be perfect. I have no idea why I stressed, they were all very sweet and kind sitting in my tiny living room.
That’s why I think I kept showing up or offering to host, because no matter what your house is like or what you serve they are appreciative and lovely. Everyone offers something different. I love hearing a different perspective. Each reader comes with their own personal experiences and this view makes for a diverse and stimulating conversation. As we grew as a group our perspectives changed. Sometimes new people came in and out. A lot of us had babies or got married, which really changed the dynamics of our group.
Some meetings were totally on point with the book and others were a total mishmash of mini conversations. Momversations! We talked about it all…and some of us with a potty mouth! I learned a lot from these women. Being a new mom it was awesome to share and relate. As a working mom it was so good to know I wasn’t alone in my hectic balancing act. Being a wife can also be a struggle at times and I definitely took amazing advice from these smart, compassionate and quirky women.
Turning Pages and Swiping
We read books that were often a book we might no pick pick on our own. A book we might pass by…judging it by its cover. Our group lets the host pick. I think this is the best way. No voting, no drama. This format is how I read many, many books out of my comfort zone or preferred genres. If there was a book that I did not like-oh well. I most likely learned something about myself from reading it. Being pushed past my emotional limits is never comfortable, but it is a book….it can’t hurt me. The paperback boogie man isn’t going to get me. I can read and think about hard things. I can let fictional or real characters touch me, anger me or make me think.
I have to add this tiny bit in. I started book club reading physical books. Then I moved on to a Kindle. I like both. Each as its upside and drawback. I can say that I do love passing a good book along to a friend, I like to feel & see pages turn, and like a nonhorder (hahaha) see my collection….sort of reflect as I dust them. An electronic version gives me none of those good feels but it does make for a tidier house and put a book at my fingertips in a second….enough of that, back to it.
At a certain point I think it was becoming difficult for people to meet. Life was getting very busy for working moms. The love of meeting wasn’t enough- it became a struggle for many. I know I was trying my best. I really hated missing a meeting, but at times I struggled to get the full read in or find time to attend. I think some felt guilty if they missed. I know I did, but life happens and book club should be enjoyed not a guilt trip.
The End of an Era
So here we come to the point in my story where the book club fell apart. I completely understand why it wasn’t working, why the person who founded the group wanted it to stop and why it did. I was very sad it was ending. I think there were a handful of us who were hoping it wasn’t true. Going to the last meeting I was hoping it wasn’t-that someone would want to drive the train. Lead us in a new direction. Nope! Didn’t happen. It was a very bitter sweet meeting. It felt weird saying goodbye to this wonderful group of ladies who brought so much to my life. Sometimes change needs to happen in order for a new something to happen.
When we left there were 4 or 5 of us who were lingering….we sort of were looking at each other….I know I was thinking maybe one of them would say I will start a new group, but it didn’t happen. I think people felt awkward. No one wanted to hurt anyone feelings or make anyone feel guilty for being OK for letting it go. I love that about these ladies….the consideration…the recognition and respect of different perspectives.
So, times goes by and I really missed the group. I had contact with a few members which was nice, but I loved the eclectic dozen. My reading slacked for a while. I didn’t have anyone to chat with about the ins and outs of a story. Huge boo. Kinda strange because I was an avid reader before the group. I never needed to chat about a book before. In college I actually didn’t enjoy dissecting a novel or text in public.
More time went by and I started thinking and talking to the universe. I was hoping someone might want to get the group back together. You might be asking-why not me? Why didn’t I reach out. Why didn’t I start a new/different group if I missed it so much. The answer is I just don’t have that confidence. I thought maybe everyone would say no. I have this saying that “my brand isn’t for everyone”. I honestly believe and accept that. Maybe there is a book out there to help that?!
The Band is Back Together
Thankfully someone was brave enough to reach out. She reached out to all of the members from the original group. Some of us were pumped and some are still in a place where it isn’t something they can or want to do and that is OK. I think that is a huge take away. Know your limits and do what fills you up…..do that. Do what fills you up.
We have only gotten together a handful of times so far. I love it of course. I missed a meeting. Yep. Life was to much to balance and I had to miss (and I tried this particular book using Audible….Where the Crawdads Sing). We are a smaller group this time around. I think everyone gets it. This last meeting the host had her sister on Facetime! I showed up late from yoga and was introduced to her via the phone! How fun is that?! It was a great meeting. Lots of stimulating talk about the book. It was an easy read with many different aspects/characters. Feelings were mixed and everyone had some perspective or idea I hadn’t thought of while reading. That is why I love going. It is a judgement free learning zone… a space where I can grow as a reader and an individual.
Our new pick looks good. I have ordered it, but have not even cracked the binding. I am looking forward to reading it closer to our next meeting date. I used to read a new selection as soon as I could. I find I enjoy book club much more if I read the book closer to the meeting date, less time for me to forget details and I think I digest the text differently.
My Take Away
I am truly thankful to be doing something that fills me up. I think this is essential for all humans. Finding things and doing things that are just for yourself. I am equally thankful that I know brave people who can do things I can’t. Without that confidence I would still be missing part of my tribe, missing something I loved….missing a part of myself.
I am going to keep on reading, sharing, pushing myself and supporting this awesome group of ladies.
If you check out my The Buffet page you can always see new books I am reading. I have one that isn’t for club, but something new for me. I am going to write about it once I finish…so stay tuned for that. If you liked this post and wanna read more, follow me. You can like this post, you can send me a message. Let’s talk books or whatever!