Yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month, so in my world, and the worlds of a dozen or so other ladies in my area, that means it was time for book club. I was thinking about the night as I was getting ready, and it just struck me that it was just a really GOOD night. It wasn't necessarily anything special or different than usual. In fact it was probably much the same, but that I just happened to stop and think about it. It was just...really good, and I think everyone should have something like that.
Our host last night was a new mom, who rather bravely volunteered to host while her little guy was only 6 weeks old. Like 6 week old babies tend to be between the hours of 7-9 (the witching hour for the uninitiated) he was a little fussy. We continued having conversations, large group, small asides, background music playing, baby fussing and then calming, new mama doing a great job doing her thing as well as joining in with the group, and this morning I just felt so lucky to be part of a group like that. Comfortable, accommodating, really smart, great people. Over the years people will sometimes ask how we operate, how we got started, how we keep going. I invite everyone local to come join us if they are interested, and I think most of our group is the same way. Our door is open if you want to hang out, and if not, that's cool too!
We've been meeting for just over 6 years, second Tuesday of the month, from about 7-9, with surprisingly few deviations. Our members have a lot of similarities, but we're rather diverse as well in terms of life stage, marital status, jobs. Membership ebbs and flows as new people are invited, and others leave. There are 12-15 of us on the invite list, and maybe 6-8 attend. No one has perfect attendance and there's certainly no penalty for that. We started out with our 2 founding members - both of whom have moved away now and are missed! - dreaming about one day having free time beyond the grind of thesis preparation. From what I recall, they had lots of plans about what they would do with all of that free time, and starting a book club was one of those things that came to fruition.
(as an honest aside, earlier in my college career a different friend was talking about joining a book club, and I thought it was the most pretentious thing. Maybe some of you reading are thinking the same thing, but I totally GET it now, so bear with me)
Anyway, so those 2 ladies told a few other ladies they were thinking of starting this club, and we all invited a few other friends, and a group was born. At the beginning or end of each year, we each bring a few book suggestions, and we put them all down on a list. The list is both set and isn't - it can be changed if we decide that the next book just isn't speaking to us for whatever reason. We volunteer to host - with a group our size, we end up hosting just once, maybe twice a year. That way it isn't too much of a burden to make a whole bunch of food (homemade soup and salad and frozen apps from Trader Joes are both equally loved - if you want to go gourmet or if you only have time to open packages, both are totally cool) and clean up for guests (no one minds piles of blocks in the corner and there is a standing agreement not to notice rogue dust bunnies). Half the group brings a beverage to share, the other half freeloads. :) Sometimes we divide by last name, sometimes by geography depending on group makeup. Sometimes we have a healthy book discussion if a large proportion of us managed to read, sometimes we have a summary given by the few who did - we play a little fast and loose with the definition of "BOOK" club. I've heard of some groups that are more academic than ours, and that's cool if that's what you're into. I prefer keeping it casual with a nice healthy side of chit chat. We also happen to have a knack for choosing books that later get made into movies, so you can claim those bragging rights of saying, "oh, but the book was sooo much better."
So to me, THAT'S what a book club is about. We started through word of mouth, but in this era of the internet, sites like meetup.com or your local library can be a great place to start if you're new to an area. You could even keep it real and just call it a wine club if you're not so much into reading. But I love it - hanging out with cool, genuinely nice people, expanding my mind when I have time, but not being shamed about it if I don't. I look forward to it every month, especially if I'm going through periods in my life where that might be the only socialization I get for whatever reason. Yeah, we had some awkward silences in the early days when a lot of us were just getting to know one another. I love that we've grown comfortable and grown together and have nights like last night. Yay books! Yay friends! And yay wine!