Some book clubs can be so demanding and stuffy. There are instructions set forth by the almighty internet and various guide books about how to form a club, rules to abide by, even sorts of “Robert’s Rules of Order” on how to run the meetings. Aaarrgh! Aren’t there enough hoops to jump through on a daily basis without having to live by the golden rule during your recreational time too? I think book club should be fun, not another chore to cram into our already hectic schedules. It is possible to have fun and simultaneously broaden your literary horizons. I should mention that it is important when starting or joining a book club to have a plan: what you want to accomplish, how seriously are you going to take it, and establish guidelines.
I am in a book club. I love my book club friends! Our meetings are SUPER casual. We have a core group of about 5 that are consistently at our monthly meetings and another 5 or so that are roamers. Ours is a group, oddly enough, where reading the monthly book selection is not even mandatory. As anyone knows, even if you LOVE to read – sadly some months you just can’t squeeze the time in. Our group is made up 2 college students, two married ladies, 4 divorcees, and assorted ‘guests’. Our age group ranges from early twenties to mid- fifties. Our club is all female. Many book clubs are extraordinarily structured, ours is not. We originally formed in order to broaden our horizons, maybe branch out of our comfort zones and try reading things that we wouldn’t ordinarily choose for ourselves. We even included some classics on our first annual list. We’re already into our second year. It’s hard to believe it’s gone by so quickly. Well, I think it’s safe to say we’ve dropped the classics. We had two on our first list. Those choices went over like lead balloons. Unless something really compelling is on a member’s personal list; I don’t really see the classics coming around again for us. We’re not quite as lowbrow as romance novels, not that there’s anything wrong with those either. But we did decide for ourselves that the classics were just not our bag. We’ve decided to go the entirely commercial route and stick to the best sellers and books that have been recommended to us by friends. How predictable, I know, but it is what it is. At least we all acknowledge and embrace our mediocrity. The great thing is that everyone is the group is “on the same page” (sorry I couldn’t resist) with the group’s plan, purpose, & goal.
We start each year by choosing the book list for the upcoming year. Each member gets a member pick then for the remaining months we choose, as a group, books from the best seller list. Usually we start our meetings by gathering together at one member’s home, we rotate each month. We each bring an appetizer to share. I look forward to the snacks all day on book club days; appetizers are my favorite food group! Then we talk about the book for that month. Those of us that weren’t able to finish the book just jump in where they can. (Some even decide after the discussion they may not want to even finish, or start – as the case may be.) We may or may not pose suggested book club questions from outside sources. Generally speaking though – our book club discussions, unless the book is incredibly amazing, quickly disintegrate into life discussions: what each of us is up to, what our kids are up to, how work is going, the neighborhood, current events, etc. That’s what I love most about it, that we can talk about those things. I treasure my book club ladies; and I hope that you are blessed with a place where you feel free to learn a little something new, decompress, be yourself, and gorge yourself on appetizers. I think it’s necessary for each of us to have a bonding group.
Have you read any amazing books we should add to our list? Is there a group of friends you look forward to gathering with each month? A mom’s group? Bunco ladies? Wive’s club? If you’re not in a group already, try starting one. The benefits of having a group of friends to let your hair down with are great! If you love reading as much as I do, then a book club may be just the thing for you. There are all sorts of places to get started; even most local libraries host book clubs. Although, I imagine if you’re participating at a library book club they probably expect you to read the book.
I plan to share with you some of the books we have loved. Check back for book reviews.