Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy First Anniversary, Book Club!!!

 In January of 2011, almost exactly a year ago as I write this, my friend Tina and I decided to start a book club. We each invited one woman to join us, making a group of four. I invited my cousin Emily, and Tina invited her coworker Desiree. It was awesome. Our initial goals were threefold: to get thinky more often, to expose ourselves to a greater variety of literature, and YES to socialize. Because we're girls. We really had no idea how things would go. I mean, January is famous for quickly abandoned though brilliant ideas, right?

   BOY HOWDY that is not how things went down
for our little Oklahoma Book Club.

   Since last January, our group of four has grown to twenty-two.  22. TWENTY-TWO. Veinte y dos. That is a 450% growth rate, you guys. And we didn't advertise or anything; it's all been just by word of mouth. In fact, in late October we made the rather uncomfortable decision to close enrollment due to a potentially unmanageable crowd. Seating and feeding people is one thing; but more importantly, in gigantic crowds we lose the intimacy needed for really satisfying book discussions.

  In our first year we devoured eight novels as a group and have shared many hours of great conversation with each other, exploring and debating the content of these selections. We've laughed, we've cried, we've made each other blush. We've challenged our belief systems. Thanks to a Los Angeles book industry hook up we have with one of our members (her name rhymes with Frulia) , we even conducted a telephone interview with Aimee Bender, the author of one of our books! DO YOU KNOW COOL THAT IS?? So cool it's almost awkward.

   As suggested by our club name, Dinner Club With a Reading Problem, we also eat.  We eat really well.  It goes without saying that every one of our gatherings has been a passionately convivial affair, sometimes themed to the book and other times a wild pot luck free-for-all. Even the self-proclaimed kitchen-challenged among us have participated happily, and we've traded fun recipes along the way. Again, because we're girls.

   Reading has never been so much fun.  We always set attainable deadlines depending on the time of year and most members' life groove at the time, so that no one seees book club as a burden or work.  We keep in touch with each other throughout the reading weeks. And we have grown to know each other in deeper ways than you normally do in a casual acquaintance.  Hearing a woman's thoughts on a hefty read can reveal incredible things about her life and heart.

   So anyway... If you do not yet have a book club, I double dog dare you to start one.  It will not cost you much time or money, and what it DOES cost you will return to you tenfold in a rich life experience.


   Curious about who we are or what we've read?  
Here are some vital stats:

The average age of our 22 members is 35.78 years. (Our most junior member turned 21 the same day as our most recent dinner, and our most seasoned lady is 55, though you would never guess it to look at her.)

Among the group we have 13 children and 4 grandchildren, ranging from infant to college aged.

Roughly one third of our members is married, one of them being half of a Derby Union. More on that another time.

Professions: By coincidence, a different one third of our members is in number-crunching professions. Accountants, analysts, IT whizzes, auditors, etc. Also in the group is a paralegal, a credit union manager, a college student/part time employee/ Mom of two teens, a literary publicist, a hair design student, a computer nerd, a social worker supervisor, a receptionist, a project manager for a major investment house, an oil & gas accounting/ payroll manager, a verification associate, and a dorky farmish blogger. We are a motley crew, and I love it.

These are the books we've read as a group so far, though we always find time to discuss our additional private reads along the way:

  1.    The Manhattan Hunt Club by John Saul
  2.    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  3.    Hunger Games by Susanne Collins
  4.    Catching Fire by Susanne Collins
  5.    Mockingjay by Susanne Collins
  6.    The Shack by William P. Young
  7.    The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  8.    Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

By the way, you can find my reviews for most of these books somewhere on this blog.

How Do We Choose Our Books? In the beginning we planned to take turns like nice, polite little ladies. I mean, there were four of us. It was easy. Then throughout the year, as membership grew, we started kind of stabbing in the dark, just sort of brainstorming over plates of food and deciding wildly what to read next.
   It was working out alright, but last week we decided to take a slightly more orderly approach in 2012 and draw names two months out, that person being the one to choose our next title. We meet every six weeks, more or less, and we recently started meeting at different places! All of our 2011 events were here at the farm, which I loved dearly, but I also love going to other people's homes, and fortunately our group is overflowing with willing hostesses.

How Big of a Deal is This, Really? Well, it's a really big deal. It just is, you guys. One member (her name rhymes with Flacie) expressed that of all the activities in her busy life, if she ever felt pressed to sacrifice something, the last thing she would sacrifice would be Book Club. That speaks VOLUMES. ha-ha-ha-ha...
   Another member (her name is definitely not Margaret) has been making six hour drives from Austin, Texas to join the fun. Still another member (her name rhymes with Blephanie) reluctantly picked up the burden joy of reading by joining the group for a book she had started three years prior but never finished. And guess what? She not only stuck with us; she hosted the next party!
   Personally, I am amazed to discover so much depth and stimulation at such an easy price. The events plan themselves, really, because we are all so eager to see each other and spill our guts about the books. We definitely have  found some kind of magic here, and I can see it lasting many years.


   So Happy First Anniversary, Ladies!! You have each found a very special place in my heart because of this uncommon adventure. I have thoroughly enjoy getting to know everybody and stretching my reading muscles beyond what I would read on my own. Please stick around... 2012 is going to be incredible!

Much Love, 


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