I recently joined the book club of one of the women who attends Second Tuesday dinner, and have found it to be great fun. It is the perfect mix of learning, sharing, connecting…..and eating and drinking! We gather in someone’s home every few weeks, start the day with introductions, and then we spend time getting to know each other. Once everyone has arrived and had enough time to chat and eat, we discuss the chosen book and our various thoughts on it. We then close the meeting with selected book for next time.
For this month, we read Little Bee, which I thought was a perfect book club choice since it is based on a series of dramatic circumstances that bring two women together, each of whom is dealing with various dark aspects of her life. We started with thumbs up, thumbs down, or indifferent. Most of the group was indifferent about the book, which was surprising to me given the events that unfolded. I expected either two thumbs up or two thumbs down. Most interesting was hearing people’s various thoughts on Little Bee and their responses to the questions posed in the back section. Often, we read a book, put it down, and start a new one without giving the previous one a second thought. The discussion, for me, brought the book back to life and inspired me to read with a more critical viewpoint.
The book selection process is interesting. I am quite the planner and like to know what’s ahead, meaning I would be perfectly happy to have a reading calendar. However, given that so many new books are published, people may want flexibility and read the newest publications. In that case, I would be happy with a someone declaring, “OK. Here’s the book for next month.” In this book club, my “planner self” learned to be quiet and listen since the group preferred to debate each and every book option, and yes, we did come up with next month’s book selection. I won’t dismiss the “what do we read next debate,” however. I enjoyed hearing everyone’s favorite or ‘must read’ book lists. Too bad I did not bring a pad of paper to write them all down! Next time.
Book club formats can vary, of course, based on the group’s desires. I know one book club that has a reading calendar filled up for the year while another declares next month’s host as ‘the one’ to select the book. After our book club’s recent meeting, we decided to add a bit of structure. Next month, everyone will bring one book recommendation that we will put in a bowl, where the book chosen out of the bowl will be our next book. Yeah! We compromised! This new “choose from the bowl” allows for a fast decision but one that is not overly planned.
Book clubs are great, but how does one find the time to read!? I was curious to know how I, who considers myself an avid reader, was significantly “out-read” by the book club members. I learned two lessons: we all have 24 hours in a day and we each chose to live them differently. That’s it. There is no magic to it. For instance, I don’t have a work commute to catch up on reading since I work at home. Also, I have a stack of magazines to catch up on. (Which reminds me, I need to cancel a few subscriptions!) Lastly, at night, I am so tired, I would rather stare at a mindless TV show. Thus, I can either change some of these priorities and read more books, or accept that I may miss out on some great reads.
Yes, reading is great fun and book clubs are valuable for discussion and making friends, but we must acknowledge they require a level of commitment. Of course, some of us have more flexibility than others, but hopefully, we can at least try to carve out time for one book a month or one every six weeks. So if you have not done so already, call a friend and ask if she wants to create a book club with you. I will bet she will, and she will probably know others who would want to join as well. Most importantly, once you start your book club, book the next date at the end of each gathering. Otherwise, we will once again get caught up in life and miss out on a great bonding opportunity.
Happy reading! And be sure to check out Good Reads. It is a great way to share with others what you are reading, keep track of books you would like to read, and learn what books your friends love.