In the beginning, four a half years ago, our book club actually discussed books. Half a dozen women, composed of recently acquainted strangers, we hid behind our hard-backed covers so we did not have to meet each other’s eyes.
It did not matter if we loved the books (The Help) or hated them (I’ll give you a hint: it had to do with time travel and a wife). We still highlighted certain passages or dog-eared pages, so we could later reread scenes over our steaming cups of chai tea or Italian hot chocolate, prepared at our favorite coffee shop that is closed now.
We met because we loved books. We met because we loved words. We met because we hoped, through our monthly gatherings, we might garner a few friends.
But not only did we become friends; we became sisters. Soon, the local coffee shop could no longer contain us. It wasn’t that we’d grown in number, because our numbers have mostly remained the same. It was the volume of our laughter that had grown. Lowering our inhibitions and our book covers, we started discussing our real lives beyond the safe bounds of the fictional page.
We started meeting at bustling Indian restaurants and our homes, where we could kick off our shoes and go deep.
We discussed our marriages and the future prospect of children. We talked about our dreams and our work. Through laughter, we shouldered each other’s burdens. Through tears, we made them a little easier to bear.
We’d been meeting for two years when our first book club friend announced that she was pregnant. We screamed and we hugged. A few months later, our next friend announced that she was pregnant. Both little girls were infants when I announced that I was expecting, too. My dear friend announced her pregnancy a few months after that.
Within two and a half years, four of us six book club members gave birth. The books towering on our nightstands gathered dust as we instead rocked our children and whisper-read Guess How Much I Love You and Goodnight, Moon.
The rate which we devoured books slowed, but we did not stop meeting or discussing them. We brought our children into the book club and wondered at the volume our precious offspring could produce, making it difficult to think or speak. For a while, we left our children at home with their fathers and showed each other pictures of our growing children instead.
We laughed about sleep deprivation and got teary-eyed over the potential loss of one of our book club members, who was moving away.
We’ll visit, we promised, hugging her tight, but I think we all wondered if we actually would.
But last weekend, our book club did reunite. We traveled to visit two of our members. We ate lunch and then walked through the city, arm in arm, to a coffee shop much like the one in which our first meetings took place.
Crowding around a table that fit our numbers but not our volume, we sipped chai and coffee and shared decadent bites of rum balls, chocolate éclairs, and hazelnut mousse.
Sitting around that table, we no longer hid behind hard-backed books or glued our eyes to passages of the page. Instead, we talked about our marriages, our children, our dreams, and our work. And though we might not get to meet once a month with our original members, I am so incredibly grateful that through the written word, I have garnered a book club that has turned into my sisters and my friends.
Are you part of a book club? If so, please share the books you’ve been reading over the past three months!
If you’d like to join a book club, please contact the wonderful Kathy Patrick, the founder of Pulpwood Queens: the largest “meeting and discussing” book club in the world!
Here is an excerpt from her website:
The Pulpwood Queens is an inclusive book club. We welcome all to join. Our motto is “where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is the RULE!” Our sole mission and purpose is to promote authors, books, literacy, reading and help undiscovered authors get discovered in a big way!