It’s a lovely May afternoon as I sit down to type, one of those beautiful, sunny California days when the air is filled with the honeyed perfume of roses. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon for a book club to meet: lots of cups of tea or glasses of wine, a slice of cake or two, and conversations about books that invariably lead to an exchange of stories about our lives. Of course, we are currently sheltering in place and social distancing because of the coronavirus and any in-person meeting of book clubs will have to wait until it’s deemed safe.
There is a romance that I, and many others, associate with book clubs: the camaraderie between people with similar interests (a love of books and reading) gathered together for the noble (!) cause of discussing a creative work. When I add tea and cake to the mix, it becomes much more than mere get-together; it’s all “my favorite things” in one package. There is one additional reason that book clubs are my favorite way of socializing and I mentioned it in this post about the book A Curious Invitation, The Forty Greatest Parties In Fiction by Suzette Field and that’s to do with being an introvert. First, I want to point you to this article in the Atlantic on being an introvert: it’s an old article but covers all the relevant points. If you are an introvert, you are familiar with the contradictory feelings that the thought of socializing brings on- you really want to connect with people but you’re also thinking about how exhausting it can be. The push and pull of these emotions can tire you before you’ve even left the house. A book club helps people, and especially introverts, by focusing on something you love (books, reading), while allowing you to be prepared (everyone reads the book before they meet, so no surprises there) and minimizing variability (again, a small group of people are discussing a book that all of you have read). Most importantly, it allows for deeper, emotional exchanges with other people: when we discuss books, it allows us to live more than one life, experience new emotions albeit from the safety of a book, and see perspectives that may have stayed hidden otherwise.
I have added a picture of the book The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler but this is one of those cases where I’ve watched the movie but not read the book. I loved the movie and the book is on my to-read list, right after I finish re-reading all the Austen novels.
I hope you enjoyed reading my perspective on book clubs. I would love to hear your thoughts!