It’s Gratituesday! My book club drives me crazy. But in a good way. So, yup, today I’m thankful for book club.
Why, you ask. Why would your book club drive you crazy? And if so why do you continue to attend?
For seven years now we’ve read and discussed a handful of books. Eighty-four at most, since we read an average of twelve books a year. We’ve read fiction and non-fiction, memoir, self-help, religious, parenting, classics, recent releases, young adult, and yes, admittedly, even some romances.
My favorite meeting of the year happens in January when we pick our upcoming reads. It’s a process that’s evolved. Some books make repeat appearances until the proponent wears us down and we give in and read the thing. Others get voted off the island for reasons as odd as “it’s too long,” to “we’ve already read one like that.”
Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t always read every book on the list for the year. And even more surprising, if I haven’t finished reading the book by time we actually discuss it, I most likely won’t finish reading it. (I also hardly read any of 2014’s books, but then I didn’t read as much as I usually do either.)
Shhhh…I think the book part of book club is somewhat secondary.
The snacks definitely add to the experience and can make or break a book club night. (Just kidding, but it’s a nice addition.) One person does a full-on dinner for us, themed around the book we’re discussing. Impressive, don’t you think? I’m happy if chips and salsa or any kind of chocolate makes an appearance.
I think the people come in as the best part of book club.
Our group has morphed over the years. I’m not sure how many originals still attend. I miss some who’ve moved away or moved on. I didn’t like my bestie Kathy much when I first got to know her through book club because, frankly, I was jealous that she read more books than I managed to. What a prolific reader. Every new person who attends adds a twist to the group that shapes discussions and makes a difference.
There’s been young mothers, grandmothers, single women, a male or two, empty nesters, stay at home moms, people who work full-time, people who work from home and occasional visitors we hardly know a thing about. We’ve invited spouses to a few discussions and teens to a couple as well.
It’s fascinating to watch all these diverse personalities interact. Some haven’t read the book at all and are simply relieved at the chance to interact with live adults. Others have a definite agenda they want to discuss. Serious readers come and go, not really thrilled with our eclectic choices and off topic discussions, I suspect. Others seem intent on self-improvement. Some try to get a sentence or two in and get drowned out by louder voices. I might go one month and say almost nothing, just observing mostly. And then another month I might be the one solitary voice of dissent in a room of twirling blushing romance novel swooners. (I’ll never live that one down.)
I’d like to think I could have a one on one discussion about almost anything with any one of these book club members. It’d be easiest if we discussed books and reading. But surely there’s other possible connections that go deeper than the written word.
I’ve participated in a few after-discussions that turned out way better than the actual meeting. Smaller groups naturally have an intimacy and openness about them that invite more listening and less jockeying.
There’s definitely some holding back on strong opinions and some reservations about real open discussions. And there’s some unfiltered stuff that just spills out all over the place. It can get messy in a room filled with women.I wonder at times what would happen if some of us stepped back and listened more and talked less. I wonder how safe each member feels sharing anything close to the bone. Maybe it’s happened a bit. Some of us joke around as a defense mechanism sometimes, I suppose. Some of us don’t say what’s really on our minds. Some try to and get glossed over. It’s group dynamics at work. Maybe we need to read a book about that topic.
I adore the different people there. I see my much younger self in a couple of them. I see qualities to admire and emulate in every single person in the group. I try to set aside my uppity English major self and just be a normal human who can and does enjoy variety.
This year’s book selections include three self-help/inspirational books, one memoir, one regency romance, (cough) four based on true events, and three fictional books. Should be interesting!
It’s good for me to throw in some different flavors I wouldn’t necessarily choose on my own. Book club makes me a more well-rounded person.
And once, it made me dizzier. Or ditzy. But that’s another story.