A few weeks ago, in the comment section of my book review post, Kathleen requested I write a post on my book club. I feel like I talk about my book club a lot on this blog, but I don’t go into many specifics. So, today, if you’ll indulge me, let’s talk about book clubs.
My start to this book club was a little rocky. And mostly due to my own silly insecurities. Originally, I planned to join in January of 2011. After searching on Meetup.com, I found a young women’s book club and it sounded perfect for me. So, I joined and even read the book pick for the month, but the day of the meeting, I panicked and bowed out. I just… got scared. Worried about what people would think of me. Going to a social event on my own is terrifying for me and I couldn’t get past my own insecurities at that time.
Nearly two years later, I summoned the courage to try again. It was the exact same book club, but it had a new leader, Amber, who is the nicest and most welcoming person I’ve ever met. I ended up joining around the time Amber was hosting a new members get-together. It would just be a few new people who wanted to join the club and some long-time book club members, getting together at a restaurant downtown for drinks and tapas. It was honestly the best situation for me as I got to “join” in a low-key setting and get to know some of the members before I attended my first meeting.
My first actual book club meeting was in October of 2012 and it went so wonderfully! We met at a restaurant, and it was a small group, which was perfect for me. And from then on, I’ve been a book club regular!
Like most book clubs, we meet once a month and we pick a date based on everyone’s schedules. Sometimes it’s a midweek dinner, other times it’s a Friday night or Sunday morning brunch.
If we choose a date during the week, usually we’ll meet at a restaurant for a few hours because schedules are busy and we all need to get home in a timely manner.
If we choose a Friday night, we’ll usually try to pair it with a fun outing. We’ll meet at a restaurant to eat a good meal and talk about the book, and then drive over to another location for some fun. Some of the things we’ve done: laser tag, bowling, shuffleboard, and playing games at a brewery downtown.
During the summer months, we’ll often schedule “brunch book club by the pool” where everyone comes to my pool on Sunday morning for brunch potluck, mimosas, and pool time! It’s so much fun and usually my favorite type of book club we have!
So anyway, we definitely don’t stick to any one type of book club outing. We like to keep things interesting and it honestly just feels like a “girls night out” than the type of book club most people expect. And I love that! 🙂
Another way we might not be like a typical book club is with our discussions. We don’t have in-depth discussions about the books we choose. I know some people like to discuss themes and literary plot devices, but we prefer to just chat about how we felt while reading the book. Sometimes, if a book we read comes with a discussion guide, we’ll answer a few questions from that. Generally, though, we just like to discuss different plot points and our reaction to them. We don’t tend to pick super literary books, anyway, but more “feel good” books, which are more fun to discuss thoughts and feelings than literary themes.
We have a few parameters for choosing our monthly read:
- It can’t be one someone has already read. We like to have the reading experience together!
- Ideally, it will be a book two or more of us have marked as “to-read” on Goodreads.
- Ideally, it will have a rating of 3.5 stars or higher on Goodreads.
- It has to have multiple copies available at the library. (Nearly all of us are library users, so we run into problems if the book has a long waiting period or is completely unavailable. This also means we don’t read the popular books, so we haven’t read The Girl on the Train or All the Light We Cannot See as a group.)
Typically, Amber comes to our meeting with a few book ideas, and sometimes, some of us will also have some options. We’ll read aloud the book synopsis off Goodreads and then decide collectively if we think the book will be a good fit. It usually doesn’t take us very long to pick a book, and we tend to choose cute YA novels, engaging thrillers, or women’s lit.
We don’t regularly take new members. We no longer have our group listed on Meetup.com (Amber actually took it down the month after I joined – glad I joined when I did!) Our group now exists in a private Facebook group.
Nearly all of us are introverts, so we like keeping our meetings small. Having 10-12 members at a meeting starts to feel overwhelming. But every now and then, we’ll do a “bring a friend to book club” meeting if we feel like we need to add new faces and new personalities to the group. That’s actually how my BFF Bri started attending!
We like to do something special at least once a year to celebrate the book club’s anniversary. In 2013, five of us went on a two-day weekend cruise and in 2014, we took the Ghost Tour of St. Petersburg. This year, we’re thinking about spending a weekend in Orlando for the Food & Wine Festival!
Other than that, we’ll get together for dinner every now and then. We had a 90s gift exchange for Christmas last year. A few of us got together to carve pumpkins last October. I’ll meet up with Amber for lunch, since we work near one another. A book club friend and I started meeting up for writing dates. We all met up for a painting date for a friend’s birthday. Things like that!
We have so much fun together. They are more than just my “book club girls,” but some of my closest friends and favorite people. Growing up, I didn’t have friends who really understood me, or even really accepted me for who I was. These girls are my people. They get me. I never knew that I could find people who accepted me as I was, and let me be my neurotic, weird, crazy self. I love these girls with my whole heart and I’m so glad I took a chance on joining this group. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life.
Do you belong to a book club? How does it differ from mine?