The Joys of Joining a Book Club

Millions of people love to read – and, for the most part, it’s a solitary activity.  Reading is relaxing, it’s educational and you can do it almost anywhere (even while exercising on a treadmill — see my previous blog post).

The plot and characters of a good book can stay in your head for days. How many times have you been sorry that a book ended?

Discussing a book with other people who’ve read it is usually a real treat. The others may have caught some points that you missed or come to different conclusions than you did. They may dislike a character you loved or adore a book that you could hardly finish. The discussion can go on and on.

If you like to read and you’ve never been part of a book club, I encourage you to look into joining one or starting your own.

I always said I’d join a book club once my son was grown. The year he started college, I attended a monthly book club at the local Barnes and Noble store. It was fine, but the people weren’t very friendly, the meeting was in cramped quarters and the books weren’t ones I would have chosen.

Shortly afterward, I got an article published in the area’s major newspaper soliciting members for my own book club — and a great group of intelligent, interesting women joined. Our club has about eight members — boy, do they love to read! — and it’s been going strong for more than eight years now. A few people joined and left over the  years (mostly because they lived too far away), but the core group has stayed the same.  The list of books we’ve read is as long as my arm!

At the outset, we set up some loose guidelines about the types of books we would read, and each member is free to suggest books for upcoming months, whether they’ve read them or not. We take an informal vote on them about every three months and if nobody violently objects, we read them. We try to stay away – for the most part – from the chick lit and mystery books that many of us would normally read – and read books that won literary awards or received rave reviews. (It’s good to stretch your horizons a little.)

I particularly like to walk through the bookstore and count the books on display that the book club has read! (“I read this book, and that book, and…”) Makes me feel smart!

At the meetings, which are all held at my house (and which motivate me to vacuum and dust the living room at least once a month), we use a list of book club questions about the book that we find on the Internet. Someone reads the questions and we all chime in with our opinions.

Once, we arranged in advance to call the author of a book we’d read and ask her questions about her books.

We discuss some books for an hour or more, and some for five minutes.  A couple of times nobody liked the book and nobody could read it. (Luckily, those occasions are few and far between.)

We don’t serve food at the meetings because we tried that at first and nobody ate anything. (The meeting is right after dinner and all of us try to watch our weight.) I do provide cold bottles of water, and some people bring coffee.

Over the years, the club members have become friends and we go out to dinner once every month or so and have wreath-making parties every year. And after we discuss the book of the month, we always talk about local happenings, what’s new in our lives, and indulge in other lively discussions (which often are my favorite part of the meetings!).

Belonging to a book club is just as much fun as I always thought it would be!



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