The Club Scene

Last night was one of my favorite evenings of the month: Book Club. As the night drew to a close, I polled the crowd for today’s blog topic.

“You should write an ode to book club,” one fellow member said.

No joke, I’ve actually had plans in the works to do just that.

So, here, a limerick for your enjoyment.

There once was a girl who loved reading
New people she had trouble meeting
She joined a new book group
They drank wine and ate soup
Their friendships were not even fleeting

Can you believe I composed the entire thing during the cab ride home? That’s some poetic prowess. Watch out Shel Silverstein Billy Collins.

But the reality is that book clubs do deserve an ode. As do cooking clubs or knitting clubs or any other club you might form (um, Babysitters?) that provide some consistency of meeting.

I formed my first book club when I lived in New York. Matt and I had broken up for a few months and I was looking for a social outlet to meet new friends and take my mind off the boy troubles. We ended up gathering a group of about 10 people, and over the next few years the members—the majority of whom I didn’t know previously—became some of my closest friends. (A quick search of old emails tells me that the very first book club meeting of that group was on 11/10/2004. Six years old in one week!)

I’ve since moved, of course (as have almost all the original members), but I’ve found two book clubs in Chicago that provide similar female bonding time. And I’ve inadvertently formed a cooking club.

If you’re on a BFF search but pressed for time, forming groups like this—centered around whatever you might be passionate about—is probably your best option. There are a few important reasons why:

1) You meet new people. When I started my book club, I invited two friends to form it with me. Each of us then invited two people the others didn’t know.

2) There’s consistency. It’s impossible to forge a true friendship without it. Recall Shasta Nelson’s rule: You need to see someone twice a month for three months before you will call them a friend. I buy it, but I’d amend it to say that the math here works: 2x/month for 3 months=1x/month for 6 months=4x/month for 1.5 months. So while once-a-month clubs take a little bit to pick up in the friendship department, they work.

3) In the early days when no one knows each other, you’ll have something—The Help, grilled cheese, the scarf you’re making for your niece—to discuss.

So if there are other seekers out there, I urge you to pick your passion and form your group. Who knows, it could even turn you into a modern-day Longfellow.

Have you ever formed a club of any sort? Do you want to? Share success stories—and any questions!—here.


Filed under The Search

17 responses to “The Club Scene

  1. I’ve recently moved to Boston and luckily, my new workplace already has some lunchtime clubs in place. So far I’ve joined twice-weekly yoga and once-a-week knitting. Two weeks ago, I organized a monthly book club, and last week was our first meeting. Though only 4 of the 12 people who signed up, showed up, I think my plans to turn this into a book club potluck may tempt more people commit. Who doesn’t love to talk books over butternut squash soup or a hummus plate? (Of course we’ve got meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians, and a gluten-free diet to contend with, but I prefer to think that will open up our food horizons!)

    While I’m slowly making friend-dates outside of club time with club people, it certainly eased the original loneliness and friendlessness of the transition to Boston by having a club to go to during lunch 3/5 days a week. I highly recommend people begin/join such clubs both at work and beyond.

  2. Callie

    I am one of the two people left in that original bookclub that Rachel mentioned. It’s always amazing to me to think that everyone who has been in the club over the past 6 years has moved away except for two of us. (It makes me think that there are a LOT of people who will relate to your blog and book Rach!). When I think about it, the only true new friends that I have made over the past 6 years were through bookclub. I totally agree about the frequency. Also, its nice when you get to the point where you start to do things outside of bookclub time (attend each other birthdays, events, performances, weddings, etc. ). Also, as much as I like reading, the best part of bookclub is always having wine and catching up, talking about each other lives- relationships, jobs, etc. When you get a good group it can really be a great way to make new friends!

  3. I try to form a book club when I moved, but it fizzled. Later I learned the ladies were more interested in socializing than discussing the book. It didn’t work and it left me a little disappointed. I joined two other existing book clubs and I’ve found great friendships with some of the ladies. I love books and writing and the commonality of interests makes friendships a little easier in these groups.

  4. Beth

    Loved the limmerick. So glad we found one another!

  5. Cute limerick! I’ve been in a book club for 5 years–it’s really a great place to meet others with similar interests. Our group is a motley crew of different ages, political views and interests–makes for lively conversation.

  6. Ann

    I was also one of Rachel’s original book club members, and I hoped when I moved to Portland I’d be able to find another group of smart, sassy women (who were able to speak with equal authority on Jane Austen, Tina Fey and DVF). I haven’t yet, but I have high hopes for my next move. There’s even another one of our original book club girls in San Francisco.

    • Lorrie Paige

      Ann, I live in Portland too, and so far I haven’t found such a book club here either. If you ever find one, please let me know! 🙂

      I have just decided to start going back to my local library book clubs–Hollywood District Library has two clubs! One non-fiction and one fiction. I used to go to them a couple years ago, but stopped for some reason (I’ve forgotten now), so am returning on November 16.

      Only other groups I’m interested in are spiritual groups, like Yoga and Meditation classes.

      I tried to form groups, but like Rudrip’s experience, it fizzled. But for me it was because I really didn’t get along with them; the only thing we had in common was the book club genre. That was not surprising as I am the first person to admit that it’s very difficult for me to find kindred spirits–damn near impossible! lol! I’ve tried to make adjustments in considering others but I can’t make myself like being around people I don’t want to be around. I am who I am, so that’s why I really don’t complain about being friendless. If I’m meant to have friends, it’ll happen. I know I’m not the only person in the world who has a very, very difficult time in making friends.

      I just keep seeking, while along the way, keep having fun on my own; there is a freedom in doing things alone, like being able to change plans suddenly without checking with your friend first to see if it’s OK to change plans.

      Anyway, so I’ll see if I find friends at my local library–and my classes as well. In the meantime, I am enjoying being involved in them!

      Well, I have to get going now; I’m off to this New Agey shop near my home to check out the products and maybe strike up a friendly conversation with whoever is there. 🙂

  7. A good friend from college & I formed a book club a year ago. We each invited a couple of friends, some of which did not know each other. We didn’t want it to be a group of girls who are all best friends because then the talk seems to shift away from the book… It’s worked out so well! Everyone has met someone new and expanded their network of friends a bit, and the book conversations are always great.

  8. Jess

    I would love to be in a bookclub! My best friend tried to organize one once, but although a lot of people SAID they were interested, they didn’t actually show up. (She and I sitting around discussing books doesn’t count as a club. :P) She has now moved and in her new city has a great book club – but here in small town Ohio, I still haven’t found one to join. I’m still hopeful though! 🙂

    • Could you start your own? All you need to invite is two people. Have each of them invite two more people you don’t know, and you’re set! (And if you want any book recommendations, email me!)

      • Jess

        Rachel, after seeing how my BFF’s club didn’t work out, I’ve been reluctant to start one of my own. And I have three young kids, so it would be hard to hold one at my house too.

        I did try to start an ‘online bookclub’ (on a writer’s forum) and it was the same situation – a lot of people signed up and said they were interested, but only one actually read the book.

        I am always up for book recommendations though – I read a lot! What are some of your faves?

        • Lorrie Paige

          Same with me Jess, about having done an online book club (and other types of online clubs).

          Sign-ups, but no action. 😦

          Why do people sign up for things but don’t participate?? But that’s another topic….

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