March 2nd is National Read Across America Day, and while those of you with school-aged children are probably familiar with this ‘holiday’ in the context of childhood reading (and how important it is), I’d rather talk about my book club. I’m often shocked by how few fellow adults read, and I’ll admit that there have been seasons of my life where it definitely took a backseat to school, work, and parenting, but I enjoy it so much that I find it’s usually worth the effort.
I love my book club. My friends Lauren, Katy, and I started it a few years back when we each asked 1-2 other ladies we knew (mainly from our church) to read a newly-released bestseller by a popular Christian author, and we’ve met almost every month since. Even though we look fairly homogeneous on paper (white, Christian, straight, married, women, with small children), there is plenty of diversity in thought and experiences. We all work in different professions, come from different educational backgrounds, and grew up in different places. These are smart and thoughtful women, and I learn so much from them and the books we read.
Deciding What to Read
The only rule about book club is that we can’t read fiction. That’s too easy! We were already reading the bestsellers, chick-lit, etc. on our own, but we all found that ‘harder’ reads were more challenging, and we needed each other for the accountability to finish and to digest/discuss the content. We also wanted to maximize our limited reading time as busy wives and mothers, so we decided to steer our reading lists toward books about religion, parenting, cultural issues, but often enjoy memoirs. The only other caveat is that the book must either be readily available through local libraries or can be loaned around in time for the next meeting.
Sometimes we drink wine, sometimes hot tea, whatever the mood (or weather) dictates. When the weather’s nice, we sit on the back porch and enjoy the crickets in the background.
We’ve come up with a fairly neutral way to pick our next book: we all write our suggestions on a post-it, fold it up, and drop it in a bowl that someone draws from. We allow ourselves room to ‘veto’ if it’s a title that no one feels particularly interested in anymore, or to move onto something different if we’ve gotten stuck in a pattern and need to change it up. And we’ve found that utilizing Goodreads is helpful, because you can connect with each other and see what everyone else is reading on their own time.
In case you’re curious, here are a few of our recent picks:
Everything Happens for a Reason, Kate Bowler
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Ian Crom
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
If you’re a reader, do yourself a favor and find (or start!) a book club. If our focus sounds too intimidating for you, there is nothing wrong with following Oprah’s Book Club picks or focusing more on the ‘wine’ part than the book part!