Dear friends in my Book Club,
Thanks for coming to my house Wednesday and discussing Lucy Barton, and eating the food our poverty-stricken protagonist ate as a child: molasses on white bread. (Oh, relax PPB friends, I also had a cheese tray out.)
Twelve years ago while standing next to our garbage cans, my next-door-neighbor and I talked about starting a book club. I was brand new to the neighborhood and my kids were 3, 5 and 7 and Carol was a recent (and often) grandmother, but a love of books made us bold enough to invite each other into our homes, plus others too. (It's not just literature that brought us together, Carol is really hilarious and straight-shooting, plus her husband dressed up as Santa and made home-visits to our kids - who does that?? Precious neighbor.)
I love so many things about my book club and I bet you can say the same. We meet quarterly, so when we all come over there are exclamations and questions and gathering around the kitchen island. We are of six decades (I think, I've never asked), so we have diapers and retirement homes among us. What a gift to gather with these ladies. After a half hour or so, we sit down somewhere in our host's house and bring out our books. We don't have a formal structure for discussions, but usually the host prepares some questions and we all have at it, tangents and anecdotes and opinions and impressions and comparisons flying. Then, when we hit a lull, someone offers to host the next one and we pick a book. Then we walk or drive home, but not before some more chat.
We are all of us many things ("I am large, I contain multitudes," said Walt Whitman), but in these 12 years I have observed and, hopefully learned:
How to be a truly gracious hostess, generous and organized and inclusive and PRESENT - all, but especially Carol B;
How to be an agreeable and caring listener, but still sharing meaningful opinions - Sue, Andrea, Paula (Paula also has the distinction of sharing the most outrageous and hilarious story from her childhood - it brought down the house – it’s the stuff of legend);
How to say the thing that quietly redirects the conversation, based on facts and book-references - Karen, Judie and Theresa;
How to say the bold thing that forces everyone to agree or disagree, and nudges us toward firmer positions - Mary Jo, Carol R, and Leona;
How to be so busy with 2 kids, a full-time job, a dog and a summer home that you read the wrong book (same title), but still participate in the discussion – Kathy; and
How to put up with a curly-headed someone who “goes ahead and says it,” because she is impulsive and head-strong and passionate and very, very opinionated, but feels comfortable and safe enough in your living rooms to be her very own self – THANKS to each of every one of you.
Love you all, SLK
PS – I thought of writing about book clubs this morning because someone yesterday asked if she could come on Sunday to paint a book-shaped plate for the leader of her book club. OF COURSE!! Not just for moms – this Sunday’s event is for anyone who wants to give a book-lover a very loving and personal gift. See you here, here are the deets.