Personal Essay

What do You Know About Book Clubs?

Are you part of a book club? Do you like to read books? Can you commit to reading at least one book a month? Those are some of the things you need to consider before joining a book club. Although, most book clubs meet once a month, some meet less often. Some pick their books for the whole year at one time and some pick one month ahead. Some read only fiction, some read only non-fiction. What sounds good to you? That’s what you must decide. Size is important, too. Do you want an intimate small group, a medium size group with a chance for discussion, or a large group with lot’s of talking and ideas?

In my book club, Dansforth & Friends, we read a little bit of everything. We do tend to choose more fiction than non-fiction. However, it’s up to the hostess to pick the book and she can pick anything she wants. We’ve read classics, horror, thrillers, love stories, new books and books that have been around a while.

One of my favorite books we read last year was The Measure by Nikki Erlick. It starts with everyone all over the world waking up to a box on their doorstep. If they open it, they find a red thread wrapped in delicate material. The best scientists investigate and it’s decided that the length of the thread gives the length of the owner’s life. Some people want to know and they open the box right away. It affects how they live the years they have left. Some people refuse to look and lock their boxes away. Support groups form and crazy things happen. The discussion my group had about this was wonderful and thought-provoking. Would you want to know the length of your life? Would you change anything if you found out it was short or long?

Picking a book for our club is a nerve-wracking event. Some of us struggle and look for weeks before we have to announce our choice. Many members bring several books and let our club decide. Some know what they their pick. All of us pray that our group will like the books. It’s a much harder choice than figuring out what wine and food to serve. And we hold our breaths until the group shares what they liked or disliked about the book.

What I’ve learned over the years is an individual will not love or even like every book. It’s hard to take when you’re in love with the one you chose, but that’s life. Sometimes if a book doesn’t agree with me when I begin it, I’ll put it down. Months, or years later, I may pick it back up again and love it, or not. Your current life situation may effect how you feel, or the subject matter of the book, or anything. Not every book is for every person, but that’s okay. It just may not be the ideal time for that story and you to come together.

There are lots of books in the world. You should see my TBR pile. On GoodReads, I have 1855 books on my Want To Read List and I have about 35 or so piled behind my desk. Do I still buy more books? Why, yes I do.

The very first book we ever picked was one of my favorites, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Our small charter group gathered at a home in my old neighborhood, talked and talked, and got to know each other. We might have had a glass of wine or two. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of changes within the group. People have moved, people have left, but some of us have stayed.

This year, our group will celebrate our Twenty Year Anniversary. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow up, go to college, and start their own lives. We’ve been there for the triumphs and the defeats, the healthy days and the sick days, but most of all we’ve been there for each other. We figured out how to zoom during covid and the shutdown. And that made the first meeting back together the best feeling in the world.

So, if you like to read. Find yourself a good book club and join. Read the books, even if you don’t think you’ll like them. (You’ll find that you just might.) Get to know the members. Host and pick books, make food, go on ‘field trips’ and enjoy. There’s nothing like a good book to bring people together and there’s nothing like good people to discover a good book.

Are you a member of a book club? Let me know how yours operates? What’s a good book you’ve read recently?

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