Tonight, my book club celebrated its one-year anniversary. Fourteen of our 17 members gathered in an Asian fusion restaurant in our town to toast our 12 months of meetings and celebrate one another’s friendship. We also had a book swap; I took home Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
This group is the third book club in which I’ve participated. I joined my first in my 20s. The group brought together a mix of young professionals who found one another after seeing a listing at the Brookline Booksmith. We met in coffee shops to discuss our books. Over the years, we narrowed down to a small, committed group. I became friends outside of the book club with some of them, attending their weddings and celebrating their career successes. The group eventually disbanded, as people moved on from Boston and as commitment to the group competed with other obligations.
I became part of my second book club in my 30s. We were all women, all working on our careers, and, since many of us were recently married, all adjusting to life in couplehood. I knew some of the women going into the club; others, I became friends with along the way. During our time together, our lives grew to include first homes and, eventually, children. My son was the first child born of this book club. Quickly, more babies followed; at last count, 18 kids have been born to members of this book club. We lost members as they moved out of state, but we kept our group together for several years, until relocations around the Boston area and the growing demands of balancing career and family made meeting up too hard. Now, we’re Facebook friends and send holiday cards. I get together with some of them frequently, others not as often as I would like.
My current book club consists of women from my town. We all met through a parent group; our commonalities include our geography, a love of reading, and motherhood. I knew only one of the women before joining the book club. The rest of the women are new friends, a development I’ve especially appreciated now that I am in my 40s and know how hard it can be to new connections like these. It’s been a pleasure getting to know them through our monthly meet-ups at one another’s homes and our discussions of our books. We’ve read a mix of fiction and nonfiction this year and our conversations about our selections have been interesting, engaging, and, most of all, something to which I look forward. We also share parenting tips, travel stories, information about maneuvering through the school system, and other personal tidbits that makes the book club expand to more than just books.
The best part about all of my book clubs is the community that they have created. I am one who can get so easily lost in a book, which, while always enjoyable, is a solitary endeavor. My book clubs have pulled me out of myself to see these stories through the perspectives of other people, which has broadened my worldview and helped me to grow. I’ve been encouraged to try books I would not have taken on—some of which were great finds, others not so much (I will never like Jane Austen). Oh, and, of course, I love the wine and camaraderie that comes along with the gatherings!