I’d tried to quit my book club on at least two other occasions before it actually took. Well, it finally happened. I quit for real last Monday, and then the whole thing fell apart. That was probably going to happen with or without me – any group of women eventually turns into a shit show. If you don’t believe me, you can study any bridal or baby shower, and pretty much any workplace. But I sent out the first email. And now, book club is no more.
Although my expiry date had passed some time ago, I feel sad to see book club go. I joined in September 2007, just three months after I had to move back to Toronto. The shock of my new, single life had begun to wear off. I’ve always considered book clubs to be an overall bad idea and avoided them despite the fact that I love reading. However, the idea was proposed to me at just the right time. I was having a lot of difficulty being by myself, sitting still and focussing, which I knew was something I was going to have to address. And, I was in the market for some new experiences.
Being forced to sit down and read to a deadline was hard, very hard, at first. My brain had a lot to say and whine about, such as, “Why the fuck is this happening to me?” The problem was, there was no reason it was happening to me, so I just had to sit there and listen to my brain work through it. I didn’t like it very much. I would much rather have been out dancing, or hiking or any of the other things I was doing then, to avoid dealing with being abandoned. Those things all helped me too, but I don’t know how long it would have been before I could settle down to read again if it hadn’t been for book club. A pretty long time, I think.
Through the book club, I was introduced to someone my own age who was also going through a divorce. Whatever differences may ultimately have surfaced between us, that relationship was invaluable to me – hopefully to both of us. The book club also helped me stay connected with a friend who lives outside of Toronto, that I wouldn’t likely have seen very much otherwise. In addition, I firmly believe that I am a less shy person because of book club.
So for these reasons, I will always have fond memories of it. It has definitely served a very important purpose in my life.
But, you know what they say about good things. A fundamental problem became apparent in our book club. It consisted of two camps of people with very different ideas about the direction a book club should take. There was the group who wanted to use it primarly as a vehicle for getting together with a loose emphasis on the books. And the other group who wanted to discuss the themes, construction, and devices of literature with a loose emphasis on socializing. From what I hear of the book clubs of other friends, it sounds like this is a pretty common dilemma. Neither group is wrong, but without a consensus at this base level, it is probably doomed to fail.
Then, a fundamental issue with my own personality cannot be discounted. I don’t enjoy being a quitter but I just can’t seem to do anything continuously any extended period of time. Sooner or later I always need to take a break, permanent or otherwise. See also: mosaics, painting and belly dance. For me, September 2007 to January 2010 is a pretty good run.
A book club isn’t just about the few hours that make up the meeting. All the time to read and consider the book have to be accounted for too. I had to have that time back to focus on other things.
To start with, a large stack of personal reading.