Book clubs are enjoying a renaissance. They are so “in” right now. Book clubs are the new Black.
My book club, however, is not your grandma’s book club.
Reading for me has always been better (and way cheaper) than seeking professional help. I have always dreamed of being in a book club overflowing with food, friends, fun and lovely fiction. I did not, however, want an Oprah-style book club. What Happens at Book Club, Stays at Book Club is not about serious issues, social commentary or the classics. We are firm believers of “comfort reads”. Books are therapy. Books can fill a wide range of emotional needs. It is also comforting to know that at the end of a long day/week/month, members can gather together and share our love of books, food, friendship and love.
<<Cue Aha! moment>>
Then I read The Chocolate Thief. Like an addict binging on the highest quality artisanal chocolate, I immediately read it again. And again. Slower each time, highlighting passages, savoring the dialogue and, well, sighing. In my chocolate induced euphoria, I even penned an ode to Laura to thank her! I won't actually admit how many times I have read it The Chocolate Thief. For me, it is (really all of her books are) like a favorite movie. People watch their favorites over and over, don't they? Why should cherished books be any different?
Hearing vs. Listening
I was simply (and mindlessly) reading words and passages, not truly being present or involved in the experience/understanding/enjoyment of the material. Sadly, I don’t even remember half of the names of the books I read during that time. One single book, however, not only returned me to a more tactile/emotional/whole body immersing EXPERIENCE, but also renewed my thirst for lovely fiction. Since then, I have been on a quest to discover and devour the work of authors who have slightly skewed the traditional RomCom formula with their uniquely crafted and smart, quirky fiction.
Surely I was not alone. I felt compelled to find like-minded ladies, and I longed to share my literary discoveries with others. The mom group for my daughter’s class (that I dubbed The Mom Mafia) was my litmus test. Already gathering for school functions, play dates and birthday parties, the moms began organizing special “grown-up” field trips and carving out time for our own book-themed meetings. The rest, as they say, is book club history.
During this first year we have refined our palettes with the finest Parisian chocolates and desserts, conducted highly scientific research on knitting, tattoos and the art of drinking whiskey, taken field trips to harvest lavender and to see kilted highlanders play the bagpipes, attended movie premieres and private cooking classes and have traveled through time to dystopian society and 18th century Scotland. The book club has also been extremely blessed to be the recipient of author involvement. The generous assistance and much appreciated gifts and swag have been an amazing boon to members.
I will admit, the book club requires a lot of prep work. Reading, rereading and researching. Planning meetings with appropriately themed food, drink and décor. Drafting discussion question and topics as well as creating games and activities. Organizing field trips, when applicable. It is a labor of love, however, and the rewards far outweigh the effort.
For some members (me!), the book club legitimizes an obsession with reading. For others, it may be the only night they can take the time away from hectic schedules to be with friends and talk about something other than work, school and children. For all, it’s kind of like playing hooky from life for an evening.
You can find me, as well as the individual boards I have created for each book club selection on Pinterest. http://www.pinterest.com/shannonoschmieg/