When a friend asked if I wanted to join a book club, I will be honest, I hesitated. I had this idea in mind that it would be a group of high-brow women talking about the latest Pulitzer Prize winning book while indulging in expensive wine and cheese. Looking back, I am not sure why I thought this because my friend is quite the opposite.
I accepted that invitation (thankfully there was no selection criteria or initiation process) and have never looked back. I have been reading and loving books with this wonderful group since 2009! The group itself in various iterations had already been together for 2 years before I joined. Despite this, I never felt like an intruder and soon learnt that these ladies were far from the stereotype I had imagined.
Each month we get together at the ‘book selectors’ house. We talk, we eat, we drink and we talk a little more – about the book and about life in general. We’ve been there for each other through weddings, babies, break-ups, illnesses, new jobs, moves and deaths. We laugh together and we cry together. Very few of us see each other outside of our once a month gathering but I know I can call on these ladies anytime.
And now to books. Since I started in TGIB (Thank God it’s Book Club) we have read over 70 books; averaging one per month. There have been some highly rated, some x rated and some very average books but that’s the beauty of a book club, you try books that you may not have otherwise read. Our rating system is quite rigorous (tongue in cheek) – we individually rate out of ten based on the following criteria: readability, enjoyment, subject, title, cover and overall. We each reveal our individual scores to come up with a very roughly calculated average.
Some of the most highly rated books include The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman, Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez and The Secret Life of Bees by Sarah Monk Kidd just to name a few. We are currently reading The Rooster Bar by John Grisham.
We have one rule – no self-help books. Other than that we all have our little quirks. I for one don’t like too many characters (I get confused easily) and naturally we try and steer away from books which are number 2 or beyond in a series (if we haven’t read the first). Others don’t like maps or chopping and changing between time periods. I think at one point there was even a ban on Jodi Picoult due to how real and depressing some of her books were. But other than that we are pretty laid back about the books we read. There is absolutely no judgement if you haven’t read the book! Life gets busy sometimes and there’s just no time for reading – and that is OK!
The other beauty about book club is the opportunity to talk about the book! Have you ever suffered a book hangover – ‘a condition in which attachment to a book or series that has ended causes the reader traumatic emotional distress’. Being in a book club offers a cure for that hangover – the ability to share in that emotional distress and have others empathise with you. And finally, book club for me is my ‘me time’. I look forward to those few hours once a month to chat with friends about books.
I will never forget the first book I read for TGIB: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This isn’t because I loved the book, it’s because it signals the start of an amazing journey with these (now 7) women who share my love for reading and support me no matter what. So perhaps we aren’t a stereotypical book club but just a group of friends who love books and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope you are lucky enough to find a book club that’s as amazing as mine. To find a book club try your local library – or why not just get together with a few other book loving friends and start your own.
Happy reading xx
P.S. The art to a good cup of tea at book club is about 10 dunks (** a personal joke to my beautiful book loving friends).