April 28, 2014
I read with interest a column in the Huffington Post about a self-confessed book club dropout. She’d helped form or joined at least three book clubs, but either they collapsed, or she lost interest quickly. The writer concluded that she cherished her reading time and didn’t want the stress of a deadline or reading things that she didn’t select.
I understood her viewpoint, but I’ve always found my book clubs helpful and nourishing. That’s right, book clubs. I’ve been in two for at least ten years, so long that I’ve forgotten exactly when they started. I moved to London for three years in 2009, joined two clubs while I was there, and came back in early 2013 to the two in Charlotte that I’d left. My book club friends had thoughtfully held my spot open.
My two clubs are very different. One, called the Happy Bookers, is a group of women mostly ten to fifteen years older than I am. They dress up nicely for meetings, drink really good wine, and when it’s their turn to host (usually eight to ten members show up at each meeting), serve delicious home-cooked dinners on good china. Books are decided on months in advance
The other club, which doesn’t have a name, is made up of women closer to my age, with membership from two different neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the years. The members usually meet at a restaurant for lunch, spend time catching up at meetings and are more casual in dress and in spirit. They usually choose a book for the next month at the end of the current month’s meeting.
I haven’t always loved the books I’ve read for either club, but usually I learn something during the discussion – about what readers like and don’t like. That’s been really helpful to a novice writer.
And when my own book, Saving Texas, was released last year, my clubs made me feel like I’d produced the next Pulitzer Prize winner. They bought it enthusiastically, showed up at my events, read it closely, and promoted it to others. When I talked about my book at meetings, they listened intently and asked great questions. I couldn’t have asked for more warmth, support and generosity. It’s no wonder that I treasure both of my clubs and the lasting relationships that I’ve enjoyed.