Reading is a solitary sport, but it doesn’t have to be. For years, I drifted through novels, swooning, gushing, ranting, laughing and had no one to share my feelings with… until book club. While teaching English at a local high school, I met two, fellow voracious readers and ELA teachers, Elizabeth and Jen, who shared my taste in books… which is to say anything well-written except westerns and extremely technical sci-fi.
We gabbed about our latest discoveries and recommended each other’s next reads. Eventually, we discovered we were all reading the same book one week and Elizabeth invited us to stop by her house on a weekend night to chat about the book, drink wine and sample cheese. We settled on a Friday night and enjoyed the evening so well we planned another the following month. Whoever hosted would chose the book.
Since we trusted each other’s tastes, we knew we’d be in for another great book and a fun night ahead. I believe our second book was THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant and since then we’ve read everything from thrillers like Gone Girl to poignant memoirs like Glass Castles. We seem to enjoy literary fiction that focuses on women, but we equally enjoy discussing hard-hitting, masculine epics like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Anything that makes us think, analyze, question and feel… we’re there.
Before long we added four more members: my sister Cathy, a school psychologist, my sister-in-law Joanne, a fellow romance author like me, and two close friends, Elaine and Michelle who are English and Journalism professors at our local university respectively. We each bring a unique perspective to our book discussions and never have a dull moment.
Joanne came up with our official book club name: Friday Night Book Club, and began a yahoo group for us that’s kept track of all of the books we’ve read over the past ten years. It’s impressive to look at and consider the passage of time. But deeper than that, are the changes we’ve seen in each other, supporting someone going through a divorce, losing a job, health scares, and wildly celebrating when someone got married, pregnant, a promotion, a new home. Through it all, Friday Night Book Club has been not only a celebration of books, but a celebration of friendship and sisterhood.
I’m as fascinated to hear how everyone’s kids are doing as I am to chat about the surprise twist at the end of our current read. It’s just as riveting to hear how Michelle is handling her switch from Public Relations Director to Professor of Journalism, how Elaine’s search for an agent is going, what plans are being made for Cathy’s autistic daughter who graduates high school this spring, if Jen thinks her current boyfriend will give up his “paleo” diet in time to have cake on her birthday, whether Joanne’s new house flipping project will finally get the plumbing fixed and if Elizabeth won her union election bid.
Those topics will shuffle again next month, just as our book selection will. We’ve travelled a fictional as well as a non-fiction journey together, coming-of-age, adult-style, through the years. I highly recommend forming a book club if you don’t already belong to one. More than the wonderful food, (you’ll see the Swedish meatballs and magic bars I served this weekend), and the terrific books, you’ll gain a close circle of friends bound by a love of reading and, eventually, a love of one another. Are you in a book club? What books are you reading? Let’s share! I’m reading Jojo Moyes’ ONE PLUS ONE and loving it J