Ever since I can remember, reading books has been as essential as breathing. I am rarely without a book or a magazine in my hand. At the hairdresser, I’ll listen to an audiobook while waiting the 25 minutes at the color station. I’ve also been known to read while standing in a checkout line at the grocery store, completely unaware that the line has moved forward because I am so engrossed in a story.
Those who aren’t big readers can’t seem to relate to this. Reading feels chore to them instead of a constant source of entertainment. Or maybe they were forced to read one awful book in high school and decided that the written word wasn’t for them. I don’t fault them for this. I only hope they will someday discover the joy and inspiration found between the pages of a book.
In my case, the only thing better than reading a book is talking about it. I love in-depth discussions about overall themes, characters, and plots. I want to marvel over the author’s writing style, talk through the twists and turns, and celebrate (or critique) how it all ends.
This is why my neighborhood book club has been one of the highlights of my suburban life. Every month or so, we choose a book to read and discuss. We had been meeting for many years in person before the pandemic hit. To keep our momentum (and sanity) in check, we met over Zoom. While it wasn’t the same as sitting in someone’s living room, it provided that much-needed connection we were all missing.
At times, we don’t always talk about the book. We love to drink wine and catch each other up on what is happening in our lives. We are also an incredibly resourceful bunch. If someone wants to redesign their kitchen, we recommend contractors, appliance and tile stores, and the best place to find high-quality light fixtures. When we were all planning b’nai mitzvahs for our kids, we traded the names of DJs and caterers.
There was a time when I said I wanted to talk more about the books we read when we met. At one particular meeting, we tried to lay down some ground rules. For instance, if you read the book, come at 7 pm to discuss it. Come over at 8 for cookies, cocktails, and chit-chat if you didn’t.
This turned out to be a lonely time for me. 😉
Soon enough, I weighed my need for intellectual conversation and my even stronger desire for a close-knit friend group. Of course, the friends won out. To this day, I consider these people some of my dearest friends. And besides, good books are much easier to find than good friends.
These days, our book club is the perfect mix of literary discussion and Mom’s Night Out. And, I love every minute of it. Whether we talk about what we loved or hated about the book or indulge in some neighborhood gossip, we all love a good story.