Now, I may be wrong, but the preponderance of memes out there makes me think there is a certain stereotype about book clubs. In other words, people think book clubs are just filled with bored housewives who use the term “book club” as a code word for getting together to drink and gossip.
Well, I’m here to set the record straight.
In case you think I’m wrong about this stereotype, see below for the memes I found on the subject in just a matter of minutes. (Yes, they’re funny. I can’t lie.)
I actually prefer this meme, personally.
Just last week I was chatting with a co-worker and happened to mention my recent book club meeting. His response: “You actually talk about the book?” (My response: Yes, we do have brains.)
Clearly, many people dismiss book clubs, especially ones like mine where a bunch of Moms get together (and, yes, we do drink wine and nibble on cheese), as silly and frivolous. The book club has become a modern myth where people think talking about other people overshadows talking about the book. Well, I’ve been in a book club for about 2 years now. And, we talk about the book and so much more.
In fact, here are some of the great life lessons I’ve learned from being in a book club.
Book Clubs Expose You to Different People and Ideas
During my time with the Nightlighers, we’ve read many books that I had either read before and loved or were already on my to-read, including Midnight’s Children, All the Light You Cannot See, The Goldfinch, and Why the Caged Bird Sings.
However, book club also forced me out of my comfort reading zone. We’ve read books that I never would have picked – The Art of Racing in the Rain, Leaving Before the Rains Come, Sea Creatures and Outlander, to name a few. I’ve learned something from each one. My favorite example is a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
I never would have chosen to read this book if not for book club. If I had never read this book, however, I would not have realized that I am not an extrovert at all. Apparently, I’m an ambivert. (No, that is not someone who eats plants and animals.) It means I’m right on the cusp between the introvert and extrovert. The book also helped me relate better to my daughter, who clearly struggles with being introverted in an extroverted world.
Book Club Teaches You to Not Just Respect Each Other’s Opinions, But Learn from Each Other
My book club is filled with people who have varying opinions and are not afraid to share them. When we read the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (yes, the same one featured in the recent Gilmore Girls fall episode), I really enjoyed the book because it exposed me to a person and experience I would not have known. Another member of the book club, however, had a rather visceral dislike of the book that I didn’t really understand, at first. But, as she explained her position, I started to see her side of things. It didn’t change my view of the book, but, rather, it expanded my view of books and life. This is what is great about exchanging ideas. They aren’t finite or black or white. They can expand and grow to be many colors.
Book Club Helps You Have a Deeper Connection with People
At one of our recent book club meetings we discussed the book When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins. The story prompted the group to share experiences they’d had abroad or experiences with language barriers. It was a pretty lively and informative discussion. At the end, I felt like I knew each of the women better.
And this is what I love most about book club. Talking about a story encourages others to share their stories and deepens our connections.
Book club made me realize that all of my friends are really walking books. Each one has unique, complex and fascinating stories I can’t wait to uncover, like when I read a great book.
So, no, not all book clubs are just a bunch of moms sitting around drinking wine and not talking about the book. I’d bet most of them aren’t that at all. I’d bet most of them are more like mine.