Book clubs have been popular for ages but it occurred to me only bookish types seem to go. As a reasonably voracious reader I never felt the need or urge to join until a friend invited me along one night to sit in on his. Instantly, I was hooked and have been a member of that and one other for the last 4-5 years. I discovered the only thing better than reading an interesting story alone is to share ideas and listen to others insights into the same story.
Members of both book clubs take turns hosting the group monthly or every other month at their apartments. The host will often choose the book for that meeting and each of us brings something to add to the spread. Whether food, drink or some sort of treat we all contribute to the repast. One of the groups has a rule that we must bring something to eat or drink that has been mentioned in the current book which often leads to some very unexpected delights… One tends to read the story somewhat differently knowing that certain details will be taken literally and set on the table for the group to enjoy, or not.
The sense of community that the club engenders is so pleasant and needed in these days of confusion and division. It’s this community that the book club creates that can be so interesting and satisfying when each member comes from a very different walk of life than you. It could be age, gender, race or any number of ‘differences’ that makes it so rich and rewarding. One club I belong to are a group of women who all went to Sarah Lawrence College in the 60’s and 70’s with me as the younger and only man. Sharing my insights and listening to theirs is so enjoyable and informative. Shared perspectives are the stuff of a rich life. The other group is a mix of men and women closer in age yet all coming from very different life experiences. Some of us are gay, others straight, single, married, childless and still others with families. Though we are acquainted through the group, we lead separate lives the rest of the time. When we meet it feels always like old friends seeing each other after a long break. The mood of celebration is palpable and all thanks to a book as catalyst.
I can’t recommend book clubs highly enough. They expose you to books you might not read left to your own tastes and they bring together people who might not otherwise. With life at such a crossroads group interaction and mutual support make it all much sweeter and easier to take. If you’re not sure how to find or start a club of your own The Reader’s Circle is an organization across the country that offers readings by current writers and a network of reading groups to plug into. Go to their site and find exciting opportunities in your city.