Thursday, September 23, 2010

Books also keep us together

When my daughters were two and three years old, I enrolled them in their first little preschool. We'd done "Mom's Day Out" dealies before, but this was the real thing--multiple days, teachers, learning letters, scissors...

It was great because all three of us also got to know most of the families who live in our small town. The next year, I signed on as room mom for my youngest's class and presto! Instant group of mommy friends.

Then the oldest layer started kindergarten, and since the area's growing, there are two elementary schools now. So the separations began.

Fast forward three more years, most of us are back in full-time jobs, fall activities have started, and our little ladies have diverse tastes. They're all over the place and so are the mommies. And it's sad.

I fondly recall a time when we'd all gang up after preschool at my house or one of the six of us's house, all the kids running and playing, us chatting.

Now we're running all over creation and if not for Facebook, we'd lose track of each other. In the tiny little place we live even.

After two weeks of no contact, I complained to one of my mommy friends that it was getting ridiculous. We had to find a way to get together at least once a month. She agreed, and over the summer I floated the idea of a book club.

Our first meeting was the end of August, and since it was my bright idea, I got to lead off and set up The Rules.

First rule of Book Club: You do not talk about book club.

Not really. But being me and keeping in mind my goals, we decided we needed at least nine core members to cover the nine months we'd meet (taking off Dec., June and July). When it's your month, you're in charge--you pick the book, the location, the time, lead the discussion, etc.

If a member doesn't like the current selection for whatever reason or runs out of time to finish, come anyway and pretend (or not). It's all very low pressure, and apart from the nine we need to make it work, it's open to anyone who wants to drop in and read/discuss our current selection.

How'd I find members? I brainstormed and invited friends who I'd usually find myself in animated book discussions with at parties. Or friends I always found myself telling about the latest book she had to read.

Then I told those guys to invite anyone they thought would be into it, and at our first meeting, we had ten moms and one who got sick at the last minute and couldn't be there. (There was even a near-mutiny with moms insisting we could go all 12 months--we had enough members... Okay, okay--I'm into it!)

Following my full disclosure introduction, our first selection was The Hunger Games. There were a few tentative readers--we're a diverse group, and a few of the moms weren't sure if they could read a book about children fighting to the death.

As of now, I've heard from almost everyone and at our next meeting, they're all bursting to discuss all three books in the trilogy.

Back when I suggested a book club, I was nervous. I worried everyone would agree to do it and then it would end up being me and one or two friends (there out of guilt). Then I worried everyone would show up, decide the books were crap or they couldn't commit, and never come back.

What I hoped would happen is what actually happened. A group of intelligent, hilarious, fun-loving mom-friends looking for a way to keep in touch while sharing a common interest jumped on the bandwagon, fell in love with the selections, and I think we're up to 13 planning to attend Tuesday.

Why am I telling you this? Don't be scared to give it a try. Books have so much positive energy. They fill those of us who write them with joy, but there's nothing more fun than sharing them with others and getting different views of the subject. I've already been alerted that three of our BCB*OGs think Mockingjay is awesome and I'm totally wrong about it.

I think that's totally awesome, and I can't wait to hear what they say.  Love~ <3


Cruella Collett said...

Book clubs are great. I was in one for a while, and technically I still am, but it was difficult keeping up with life getting in the way all the time. Currently three of our members are living abroad, two (including me) are struggling with finishing master's degrees, two have just finished and thus are busy with finding jobs, and one has just started a brand new job.

We really should pick it up again, though. We rarely got around to actually talk about the book, but we usually read it (which was commendable in itself, considering out busy schedules), and it gave us an excuse to get together and catch up. So I am planning to reboot the club the instant I finish my thesis!

Natasha said...

Book clubs????
Frankly never even thought of it.

Unknown said...

The moms in my kids' age range are all way older. So if I started a book club I doubt they'd be on board for my choices. Haha. BUT yay for you! I always wanted to start a book club!

Pam said...

and I'm left wondering why I wasn't invited to the Book Club???? J/K....I'm just now beginning to get to the point of life to enjoy books again :o)

Ex-pat Odessa said...

I'm jealous. Wish I could do something like this but unfortunately I don't even understand the kids teachers at parent/teacher meetings!

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh man. Lucky you. I would love to be involved in something like this, but most dudes don't read, and if they do, I'm probably not interested in what they think. Maybe I'm just jaded.

Or maybe I should hang out with more ladies.

Vicki Rocho said...

What a great idea! I should find a book club to attach myself to. My hubs reads, but nowhere near the same kind of stuff so I don't have anyone to ramble on and on with!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post - these are wonderful tips for beginning and enjoying a book club. Thanks!

LTM said...

@CC: Yay! BCs win! We're only on our first meeting post-book, so we'll see how much we discuss. Still, Hunger Games have so much to talk about...

@Rayna: You should try it! It's fun~

@Anne: You might be surprised. ...! :o)

@Pam: Would you like to join my book club? We're having our first meeting post-book on Tuesday... I'll send you directions. ;p

@Odie: urgh. I hate that. You would love love love book club. <3

@Matt: with the ladies... (I'm using my "Ladies Man" voice) ;p

@Vicki: That's the other thing--a lot of times there are clubs where you are that you can join! I got my idea by being invited to join a different club. :D

@Shanon: you bet, girl! The main thing I try to do is keep it loose. I think people equate BCs w/rigidity and structure. We're all loosey goosey. ummm... huh? ;p

Hart Johnson said...

I was part of one for a while--a mom friend of mine who saw me walking and reading all the time invited me, and it was fun for a while, but there was no wine involved... I would have made more effort to stay engaged had their been wine involved...

I would TOTALLY love to do it though, with my original mom's group... sadly they are still in Portland.

If a neighbor or local friend did one, I'd be game, if there was wine involved *shifty*

I really hope you keep loving yours!

Carolyn Abiad said...

That's so wonderful! I totally understand the drifting part. Kids and dogs seem to bring people together. Since my kids are too old and I don't have a dog, I'm out of luck. Plus I moved 700 miles away from all those friends I had at the playground...So no book club here. I have wine - if you're interested, Hart.

Thanks for letting me vicariously enjoy yours, Leigh!

Julie Musil said...

What a great idea! It's funny how school moms stick together, since our kids move up in the same grades. Next Tuesday, a core of us moms are getting together for dinner. We've all been together since my 8th grader was in kindergarten. Some of the boys still hang out together, and some don't. But the moms still get together! Have fun with the club!