February 11, 2013

Love of Reading: Goldilocks and the Quest for the Perfect Book Club

I've never had much luck with book clubs (remind me sometime to tell you guys about the one I used to be in at Bookmans). So I was excited when I asked Leigh to write a guest post about finding a good book club, and she agreed. Keep reading to hear Leigh's take on the hunt for the perfect book club, and be sure to check out the rest of the Love of Reading Week 2013 series.

Once upon a time, I was a part of the most amazing Book Club. There were eight of us, including a token male. All brought together because we loved to read and we loved talking about what we read. We took turns hosting and read a variety of genres. We challenged ourselves to read the classics, as well as books about complex issues. Because of this Book Club, I read Crime and Punishment, Welcoming the Stranger, East of Eden, and my first Flannery O'Connor short story.

Though we all held strong opinions, discussions remained respectful. Even when Annie bemoaned Jodi Picoult's writing style and I confessed I did not enjoy Flannery in the least. (I know. I've just shocked all lovers of literature.) Some books kept us chattering away, while others were moreof the “I liked it” variety. The latter response helped us figure out which books were well suited for Book Club and which weren't.

We always had a tasty array of snacks and appetizers. Perhaps a bottle (or two) (or three) of wine. We'd catch up a bit and then dive into the book. Sometimes one or two people wouldn't have gotten around to reading the book at hand but they were welcome to attend just the same. They were, however, at the mercy of spoilers. We met about once a month and it was always the highlight of my week. Good friends, good food, good books. What more did I need?

It turns out it's hard to find a good Book Club. I've tried a couple since moving to Nashville but much like Goldilocks, I haven't found the one that's Just Right. I have a few book-minded friends here who have invited me along to their Book Clubs, which is normally a good sign. But for whatever reason, they haven't been a good fit. You need the right blend of personalities, reading interests, commitment level to the group and to the reading itself, and approach to the discussion itself.

For now, I participate in an on-line Book Club, which meets my needs. We've read all manner of different genres and the discussion in the comments has been thoughtful and eye-opening. Outside of that, I bring up books I've read with friends either face to face or on Facebook. It's a compulsion. Some books you just have to talk about, especially when you're a book nerd.

Still, there's something special about intentionally reading the same book at the same time with a group of like-minded souls. My best friend recently started attending a new Book Club and she's invited me along to next month's when they discuss Gone Girl. It's the perfect Book Club book for so many reasons. It's been a couple of months since I read it and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. So I'll give this Book Club a try. Who knows? It might be just right.

Are YOU in a book club? 

Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee with only fried pickles for comfort, quit steady job as a social worker to chase that dream of writing at last, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. She is a contributor at A Deeper Family and Prodigal Magazine. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at LeighKramer.com and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.

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