I went full mom, as my writer friend said when I told her the news that I joined a book club. Although I have always loved reading, a book club was never something I considered until recently. The work-life hustle had taken me away from reading for the past few years, unless of course you count US Weekly or InStyle magazines, but in the past few months I had started reading more consistently. This led to a new friend suggesting I join her book club, and in the spirit of trying new things I soon found myself ordering the chosen book on Amazon and diligently budgeting time to read each night. Now in the second month of book club, despite a less engaging read on the docket, I am excited about continuing this new, albeit yes very 50’s housewife, tradition.
Here are the things I am learning to love about book clubs:
1. Finding a new community of women. Making new friends as an adult is hard, so having a small group of women from my neighborhood who I can have dinner with once a month is an easy entryway into making new friends. Our book club meets at local restaurants rather than in our living rooms, which makes it feel more urban cool than the stereotype I had imagined.
2. Reading books without pictures. I read all of the time. Usually board books, Dr. Seuss, lift-the-flap, and of the Where the Wild Things Are variety though. So it feels great getting back into some good literature and popular fiction. Actually it feels like returning to a room of old friends.
3. Me time! The limited time squeezed between my children’s bedtime and my own is easy to fill with chores, mindless TV, and internet shopping. Book club has encouraged me to instead carve out time for reading that truly feels dedicated to myself, centering and grounding the end of my day.
4. Discussion. In many of my circles of friends, discussion tends to gravitate to a few common topics: husbands, work, and children. It feels great to have outlets where I can vent about or celebrate these various topics, which in reality are the three most important parts of my life. However, it also feels great to meet up with a group of friends and not significantly talk about any of these things and rather focus on the themes from the book. A little academic discourse over a plate of pasta, without having to feed anyone other than myself or retrieve crayons from the floor, is like time traveling to six years ago and feels great for a few hours.
5. Reading outside my niche. I tend to gravitate toward similar types of books and authors, so having others make my reading selections for me is a great way to be exposed to books I might otherwise not read. Some will be successes and others will not be finished, but I am learning along the way.
I fancy myself to be a writer, so it is important to remain an active reader. Also, I teach about the importance of reading at every patient well visit encounter and give out new books through the Reach Out and Read program. I read with my children every day and encourage them to read on their own too. And although there are books in nearly every room of my house I was not doing much reading of my own. Previously feeling like somewhat of an imposter, I am now ready to recommit to modeling the literate life I want all children to lead.
Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole