It’s confession time. I think it’s probably a well-known fact amongst the male friends in my life that book club is in fact a cover (see what I did there) for an excuse to escape from the domestic daily grind and get together with a bunch of girlfriends and spend some time in each other’s company hanging out, drinking and discussing topical news items or other related newsworthy topics such as how the Year 4 teacher gets away with wearing skirts that short for class.
Admittedly, this type of book club is my only experience and I’m sure there are many high brow intellectual gatherings happening up and down this wonderful island, but I’m afraid I’ve never quite managed to infiltrate them. I’m guessing though, that those ladies would relish the kind of evening I enjoy, where we all make poor excuses about how we didn’t quite manage to get into it past page 47 and that some of us did in fact have a quick browse of the Wikipedia description in the hope of recalling a few key facts. It’s simply an excuse to get together with a bunch of good friends. Typically British, rarely do I strike up conversations with strangers, but connecting with my friends and sharing a meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Under the pretext of literary appreciation, I was lucky enough to share many adventures in wine, gin, pudding-eating and shopping tips about nice but sensible winter boots and I miss my chums. So this is for you ladies, my Northern girlfriends who made book club fun and kept me sane during cold, dark winter months.
I’ll set the scene.
It’s dark, cold and raining – British winter. In fact, it’s the kind of weather you know where you just want to pull on a onesie and grab a mug of something hot in front on the telly, but it’s book club night and the lure of laughter and (partially) intellectual conversation is strong. We all pull out copies of the book, some in better states than others, some diligently loaned from the library, others acquired through family or work and mostly ordered via Amazon or discovered in a favourite book shop. It’s part of the ritual, all scrambling into various sized bags, coats, pockets and then placing said book on our laps ready to start talking about it.
Interestingly, we are all from very different backgrounds and experiences. None of this matters though. Our common bond is to meet, discuss the book and eat good food and drink good wine. We are a very sociable lot and often offer to make pudding or bring something to the host so that they are not overwhelmed with the arrival of 6 or 7 women, very soon after getting home from the day job. It’s this community spirit, this sense of sharing and discovering which really shines through. I was hooked from my first meeting.
So you see, we do start with very good intentions…but as the hours pass and the volume rises, we chat about everything and anything; we laugh, we eat and drink and make the necessary yummy-food-being-consumed noises. We discuss the book (really we do), we catch up on each other’s news and finally when it starts getting a little late, even for the hardcore book clubbers (well, it is a school night) we reluctantly say our goodbyes, choose the next book and pencil in the next meeting and leave for home.
As we leave the house, I feel the cold air hit my face and scrabble for my keys. Climbing into my cold car, a happy smile is shared with my passengers. We’ve all had our fix of book club for another month and it feels good. It’s the best form of therapy I know and keeps our friendships strong to this day, despite the distance.
If you have never been to a book club, why not start one up with your own friends? It’s a great way to keep connected with people and reminds us that outside our world of social media and instant gratification with television on demand – it’s good to talk.
Remember, adventure is out there!