Book clubs. So much has been written about book clubs – the rise of bookclubs, the fall of bookclubs. There are books about book clubs and even a film about them. A million memes about book clubs…which are largely related to the amount of wine consumed at book clubs.
So, I know, another article about book clubs. I can hear your eyes rolling. And I have also said the word ‘book club’ so many times it has started to sound weird…
Now, never let it be said that I am prone to exaggeration. (I am). But my book club LITERALLY saved my life. Ok, well perhaps not literally. It may not have saved my life, but it has definitely been a lifeline.
My very first book club was held on Monday evenings at a library in the village we lived in in England. There was no wine, only tea and biscuits (could this sound any more British?!) and I was the youngest person there by about thirty years.
And just when I started to get into the swing of things (I say swing, but this book club was more of a creak) we moved to Bangkok.
I was in the stage of
desperately trying to make friends when I heard some of the Mums at school talk about a book club. I tried to subtly show interest.
When the subtle approach didn’t work, I plucked up my courage and asked if I could join. It doesn’t sound like a big deal now, but I remember having to really build myself up to ask.
And this is one of the things about being the new girl in town. You’ve got to clamber over those walls – which are usually barriers we have put up ourselves – in order to get out there and make new friends.
I was welcomed into the book club (good thing as otherwise this would have been a very brief blog post…) which turned out to be one of the most open and accepting groups I have ever been in.
The group was diverse and ever changing. A microcosm of expat life. It was lively, interesting and on occasions, challenging. It became the highlight of my month.
And in true expat style, sometimes book club would then lead on to a club. Hence the disco title of this post. Let’s just say that the morning after book club was never a good look…
So when we moved to Germany, I looked around for a book club and when I found that there wasn’t one, I started my own.
We are one of those book clubs with very strict rules. The first rule of book club is that you don’t have to have read the book to come along. The second rule is that everyone is welcome. The third rule is…well, that’s about it. Bring some food, bring some wine and be prepared to get involved in the discussions…which always end up veering wildly off topic.
So why has book club been such a lifeline?
I think it’s because it’s been a chance to get together with people outside of the normal routine. To be able to get to know people on a deeper level. To discuss something other than our kids. To meet people who may not have crossed my path otherwise. To have a constant in the diary to look forward to.
And what a relief it is to talk about ideas and concepts and literature and art! Or sometimes just bondage… (Yes, 50 Shades of Grey. I had no intention of reading it until I saw it was a book club book. Turned out I was right…worst book ever…however the discussion was hilarious so it was worth it).
These evenings combine my favourite things: books, debate, friendships…and wine. And laughter, because it always ends up with a lot of laughing.
Really, I just think it’s so special that the common language of books can bring us together, wherever we are from, and whatever our native tongue.
So while my book club may not have actually saved my life from a broken heart, it has sometimes helped to ease a lonely one. And that’s a lot to be said for a club of any kind.