Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Club is more than that

I often can't believe our book club has been going strong for over 3 years now! When Tiffany from my ward invited me to come to a book club at Courtney's house, I never imagined that 3 years later this book club would still be meeting, that it would be a huge source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction for me, and especially  that I would meet and become friends with some of the greatest people I know, all through a monthly book club! 

It's  definitely not the same book club that it was 3 years ago (Tiffany and Courtney are long gone) as It's gone through several transformations through the years.  The first big change is that we no longer meet at each other's homes. We used to take turns each week hosting book club at a different member's home, complete with providing snacks and preparing book club questions for the group. However, one night we spontaneously decided to meet at the Starbucks inside the deli at the local grocery store and realized we loved it! They not only have a lounge with comfy chairs but now nobody feels obligated to clean their houses, or keep their kids quiet, or provide snacks that would meet everyone's dietary needs! At the deli you just show up, buy some food if you want it, and relax on a chair to discuss books! Plus we even have the bonus of people-watching. haha.

The second change is that we don't advertise through our ward anymore. When I was in the Relief Society presidency I made it a point to invite any and every sister in the ward to come join us for book club! I advertised it on the ward Facebook page, made fliers to hand out, and called it a Relief Society Book Club for sisters that loved to read. We had several sisters show up until several months into it when someone complain that we were reading inappropriate books that wouldn't be appropriate for a church-sponsored book club. I admit there was some swearing in one and maybe some sexual descriptions in another book we read, but other than that I couldn't recall very many inappropriate things. However,  I also respectfully understand that everyone has different levels of sensitivity when it comes to things of the spirit. Some people are negatively affected by swearing, others by sexuality, and others by violence, even in the mildest forms. So, to respect the sensitivity of others and not ruffle any feathers at church we stopped advertising at church. But no worries! We still have a great group of (slightly irreverent sisters) from the ward who come plus some amazing ladies from the community. And we are always welcoming more!

Another change we made is we stopped ordering books from the Utah Book Buzz program every month. For the first 6 months we loved Book Buzz! Using the Book Buzz was a cheap and easy way to get lots of books at a time for our book club, but the drawbacks were 1.) That they started charging $3 per book and 2.) It was kinda stressful for me every month to pick up the books from the library, collect the money from everyone, and then collect all the books back from everyone and then turn all the books back in at the library (yes, I put myself in charge of this because nobody else wanted to.) And 3.) It was often hard to choose titles from the Book Buzz list because we couldn't tell what the book even was until we clicked on the link, which was a long and arduous process trying to choose one book with 10-12 other women. Often we'd end up choosing a book that "sounded good" only to find out when it arrived that it was a long, boring, 850 page novel that nobody wanted to read or a memoir on old-fashioned recipes from the 1950's.....
Now we just expect everyone to get the book on their own, whether they check it out from the library, get it on Audible, order a copy from betterworldbooks, or whatever. It's working out fine. I always get mine from the library because....it's free. 

The last change to book club is that it's not just a book club anymore. It's evolved into a wonderful group of friends who are eager to meet up every month for talking, laughing, catching up on each other's lives, and of course, discussing our love of books!
I'm so glad I started attending a book club. Sometimes it's hard to put yourself out there to do new things. I remember being so nervous at the first meetup in 2014 because I'd never been to a book club and I didn't know if I would have anything meaningful to contribute. I mean, I loved to read, but other than writing papers for English class, I'd never discussed my reading materials with anyone else! But, as it tuns out, you can say absolutely ANYTHING at book clubs. You can discuss your favorite quotes, praise your favorite characters, describe your favorite scenes, dig deep or not dig at all, or you can complain about how it didn't meet your expectations at all and you hated every bit of it! All opinions are welcomed at book club. 

There's a really funny episode of Malcolm in the middle where the mother, Lois, starts attending a book club with some of the other ladies in her neighborhood. At the first meeting she shows up excited to discuss the assigned book, all ready to delve into her intellectual side while getting a nice break from her four boys at home, only to discover that the other moms had different intentions. It turned out that "book club" was an escape for frustrated housewives to get drunk, unwind, and act unruly without their husbands and children around. Ha! To Lois's surprise (and somewhat relief) nobody even opened the book!
Sometimes I think about that as I head to book club. Although we don't drink at our meetups and I wouldn't call any of my friends frustrated housewives, book club is a nice way to unwind, get recharged, and act a little unruly for a change!
Chocolate Lasagna I made for my friend's birthday at book club!  
Here's the list of books we've read up til today: 
1.The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
2. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews
3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein
4. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Unbroken by Lauren HIllenbrand
7. Dealing With Dragons #1 by Patricia C. Wrede
8. Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen
9.  Wonder by R.J Palacio
10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
12. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
14. Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin
15. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
16. Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly
17. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
18. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
19. Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
20. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
21. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
22. Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck
23. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
24. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
25. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
26. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
27. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
28. Does my Head look big in this? Randa Abdah-Fattah
30. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
31. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
32. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
33. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
34. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
35. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
36. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
37. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by Jon Boyne
39. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
40. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
41. Educated by Tara Westover
42. The Broken Road by Paul Richard Evans
43. The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans
44. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
45. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Henry Ford
46. Not If I save you First by Ally Carter
47. The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

There's definitely been some good ones and some bad ones! The best two books I've read this year were Educated (thanks Dad!) and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The worst two were Uncommon Type (Tom Hanks please stick to acting) and Love and Luck (I just don't love teen-dramas) My favorite genres of books to read are historical fiction. My least favorite genres of books to read are boring non-fiction. :)

I highly recommend finding a book club and joining it! You never know what you'll find!
Happy reading to one and all!