Monday, November 11, 2013

book club at last, an unreview

Tonight, after a sad postponement last month, the lovely ladies of my book club met again. Since we were discussing two books I've reviewed previously (October's choice Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre and Let's Just Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, which I read and reviewed last September) I really don't have a review for tonight. 

But I like to be consistent, and since the start up phase of our book club may be informative for others looking to start their own, I thought I'd blog anyway. Tonight was the first time we've had a full ten women at our meeting. When we started out ten was our goal; right now there are eleven on the list but in the course of time I'm sure it'll settle out to ten. 

There were two new women again tonight, which necessitated another brief run-down of the basic suggestions (a.k.a. guidelines ... we try to avoid the term 'rules')we've been operating under:
  • book club is essentially about growing strong relationships with other women. The books are a means for accomplishing that and a structure for expanding our reading, not the end in themselves
  • since it is a book club it would be nice if everyone read the book, but, given the first rule of book club, nicer still if people attended whether they've read the book or not
  • we plan to take turns hosting 10 months of the year (the hostess cooks a gluten-free dinner because I - the celiac of the group - am hugely spoiled), have a potluck in December, and a retreat sometime in summer. At least, we hope that's how it will go
  • conversation during dinner is about life - right now we're in the getting to know you stage, though there always seems to be one moment in the conversation where things get very real. 
  • we don't talk about the book until after dinner, and are discouraged from reading reviews or discussing the book much before then. 
  • the book talk begins with a quick round of three statements each: Did you like the book? Give a 2-word review. Would you recommend it? 
So far the guidelines have worked pretty well, though there were moments tonight when I felt like there were too many people in the room having too many conversations. I love the reading, and I really love the incredible dinners (tonight's was the most delicious, succulent roast chicken, fluffy mashed potatoes, a lovely fresh salad, and chocolate cups of ice cream and granola - preceded with 'squirrel meat' appetizers - so cute!), but what I really go for is the conversation. 

I know all about the stages of group formation from my teaching days and group projects. I know that right now we are forming, that there will be some norming and storming down the road, and that eventually we'll hit a comfortable stride and be performing. The women of my book club are all interesting, accomplished, courageous women. Some have children, from expected-in-a-few-months to my young adults. Some have cats. Some have husbands or boyfriends while others have stories about not having husbands and boyfriends. We have stories and hopes and dreams and adventures. And I can't wait to hear them all. 

Some oddball taxidermy, in honour of The Bloggess.

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