America loves book clubs. An estimated 5 million adults in this country belong to at least one, and that’s not even counting the online groups. I have been involved in book clubs for most of my adult life. The first was in Roanoke, Virginia over twenty years ago, started by a few of us new moms who could see that adult company and conversation were going to be at a premium. So we invited a few friends, picked a book to discuss and began what was to be a fun, supportive community that offered each of us a monthly retreat from our chaotic lives. Though the focus was on books, of course, for me it was always so much more than that. It was a circle of people who enjoyed being together, sharing an evening and using books to talk about things that mattered to us. Now all of these years later, the group is still thriving with many of the original members.
When we moved to Alpharetta, Georgia, I knew immediately that I needed something similar in my new neighborhood, so once again, a small assembly of friends joined to begin a group that was to be an important part of my life for the next thirteen years. Book club night was not to be missed if it could be helped. My fellow members might not have been people I saw every day or even saw at all between meetings, but they were people with whom, over time, a history was shared. Children grew up, spouses left, or died. Jobs came and went, we had good times and rough spots, we got wrinkles. But through it all, there was always a meeting every month, and whether you liked the pick or not, or even if you couldn’t finish reading it because all the kids had chicken pox or the in-laws were in town or whatever– you went. Your friends would embrace you and hand you a glass of wine anyway. There was always something to discuss, always people there eager to know how you’d been, always that community to gather around and check in with each other. This group is also still alive and well, and though a few of us have moved away, most of the women have been there from its beginning.
Shortly after coming to DC, I was delighted with an invitation to join a group of moms of my daughter’s classmates. Now going on three years after the girls have been away at college, we are still enjoying books together and look forward to each other’s company when the meetings come around.
Of course, book clubs are all different. They can be big, small, women’s, men’s, co-ed, daytime, nighttime, casual come- as -you -are, fancy dinner parties, fiction only, mystery only, any -kind -of -book only. One might serve tea and cookies, another wine and caviar, chips and soda or nothing at all. But they are all alike in one way– people coming together to share each others company through one of the great gifts of civilization– the written word.
I hope ANGEL will soon be on your book club’s list of favorite reads. In the meantime, I’d like to hear more about your book clubs and post some photos of your gatherings on this blog. Go to the top of the Book Club page to read about the new promotion!