Buckle up for some humblebragging.
I could read before kindergarten. In fact, when I went into kindergarten, I once got in trouble for reading the teacher’s lesson plans. THAT WERE IN CURSIVE.
In first grade, during reading time, the teacher sent me to the class with fourth- and fifth-graders to read with them.
All through elementary school we did the Book-It Program with Pizza Hut where you got a free pizza and stuff once you’d read a certain number of books each month. And guess who was at Pizza Hut quite a lot in those days? Yours truly. Because books. And also because pizza, of course.
So, I’m a bit of a reader, you’d say.
My reading got me in trouble when I was in middle school because I decided to try out some more Stephen King after I’d read his “Eyes of the Dragon” and enjoyed it. The book I chose next? “IT.” Weird, suddenly I’m fucking terrified of clowns forever.
Another time books betrayed me – and actually continue to – was when I went to a bookstore. For as long as I can remember, and before, according to Mom, one thing happens when I get to a bookstore. I always have to poop. (We were done with the humble bragging part, in case you were confused.)
For the longest time, I felt alone in my affliction. Was it the excitement of being in the bookstore that caused it? Was it the anxiety of having to pick just one book out of all of these on the shelves? Was it lactose intolerance? (Probably).
But apparently it’s a legit thing that happens to lots of people. And even has a name.
Anyway. All of this is to say I like books. I like reading. My ideal desert island scenario is an endless stack of books, a hammock and Chris Pratt.
It’s also why one of the things on my Life List is “Start a book club.”
Do you know how hard it is to start a book club? (First world problems, I know, shut up). There’s the finding others as interested as you are, coordinating schedules, deciding on books, deciding on food… it’s not as easy as it seems!
My friends and I have mentioned the idea of starting a book club a few times but it never went anywhere. We would be talking about a book one of us read and then say “Oh we should start a book club” and forget about that thought by the next day. We’ve had unofficial tiny book clubs in the past where a few of us will read a book recommended by another one of us and kind of sort of talk about it in passing.
And book clubs in movies and TV always look so exciting. Like all these friends get together and have wine and snacks and talk about a book – THAT’S THE DREAM.
Around sometime in September, with the threat of winter ahead where nobody feels like doing anything, the book club idea got brought up again. But this time, it became more serious. My friends and I decided to actually make it a thing. Mainly for the food.
We got real official with it, too. We figured out a date that would probably work for all of us, decided we’d all bring food and a drink of some sort, and created a poll filled with suggestions of books we all wanted to read and everyone voted on that month’s winner. LEGIT.
And of course there were rules. Basically we’re like a fight club but with reading.
1. You can’t talk about the book with any book club member until we all meet and discuss.
2. Our meetings have to have food.
3. No new members unless we all approve of them.
4. You have to have finished the book by the time we meet up (we’ve gotten slightly lax on this one a couple times since because life.)
The first book we chose was my suggestion – Samantha Irby’s “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life,” because I’d heard about it from several blogs I follow and on Twitter and it sounded right up my alley as far as humor and whatnot.
Reviews of all the books we’ve done so far are at the end of this post.
At that first meeting, a couple of the girls were sick, but the rest of us met and ate entirely too much food (I still dream about the salad bar that Kristen brought). And then settled in to talk about the book. We started with “Did you like the book?” but by the end of it were talking about much deeper stuff, brought there by some of the things the author had written and other things that we’d felt based on what she wrote and how she wrote it.
You guys, my little book nerd heart was so happy…
I don’t know what it was specifically, or if it was a combination of a lot of things. I loved having this time with my friends. I loved that we’d all read the same book. I loved that it sparked discussions of all sorts. I loved that some of us had different opinions and some of us felt strongly one way or another about things. It made me feel somehow more adult – I can’t explain it.
Since that first meeting, we’ve read four more books. We’ve all had all kinds of thoughts and feelings about all of them and the discussions we have had have been as light-hearted as “How were you picturing this character?” or “Were you pronouncing her name this way or that way when you read it?” to “If this was you though, and your child/mother/friend, how would you have reacted?”
It’s been so awesome. And it’s actually pushed all of us to read much more than we had been before we started the Book Club. It’s like suddenly there aren’t enough books and there are too many books all at once.
And I think doing something for five months straight makes it pretty official, so I’m going to go ahead and say we are official. I mean, we even have a Facebook group and a group text, so…
I highly recommend doing something like this with your friends. Maybe it’s not books you talk about. Maybe its a TV show? Maybe you knit or something? Or scrapbook? (I don’t have the patience for those last two but really appreciate those who do, just FYI).
Whatever it is, it’s essential. I consider this a form of self-care. It’s something I look forward to every month and something that makes me happy.
And I’m reading books I may never have picked for myself, so I’m finding new genres I may like which just gives me that many more books to choose from at the bookstore. Which means I have to poop again.
October – We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby ⭐
She’s a good writer, don’t get me wrong, but I finished the book feeling bad for her. It wasn’t because of what had happened to her through her life, it was that she was really sad, or seemed to be. The whole book was so self-deprecating. I don’t mind that, in moderation, but when you seem to dislike yourself that much, how am I supposed to like you? I was disappointed because lots of bloggers and writers I follow on Twitter had raved about this book and I basically just tried to get through it.
November – The Girl Before, JP Delaney ⭐
This wasn’t a good book. It had an interesting premise, and yes I continued because Book Club but also kinda because I wanted to know what happened next, but at times it veered into Fifty Shades/Twilight territory and it wasn’t really written well so I don’t recommend. Also, thus far it’s the only book we’ve read written by a male author.
December – When We Were Worthy, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen ⭐⭐
This book was the first one we’d read I liked. It was a decent story, by a much better writer than the previous month. Small-town drama and a couple twisty things I liked, 8/10 would recommend for a beach read.
January – Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really, really liked this book. I’d read some of Celeste Ng’s writing before, and saw this book on like, ALL the “Best of” lists from 2017 so had high hopes. She didn’t disappoint – it was good from start to finish, and though I had the flu the day the girls met, I was FaceTime-d in for some of the discussion, which was definitely the best one we’ve had since we started the club. There’s some serious, complicated stuff in that book and it was awesome to hear everyone’s views on it.
February – Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat, Patricia Williams
I haven’t started it yet because it’s fairly short and I want it fresh on my mind when we meet for Book Club, which isn’t until the end of the month. Some of the girls have finished it already though and like it a lot, so I’m excited.
Happy reading, friends!