Why You Should Join a Bookclub

… or better yet, start your own!

I’d always had an idyllic idea of a book club and what it’d be like to join one – something about a gang of girls (or boys I guess!) getting together over a glass of wine and a good book.

And by ‘good’ book I mean, something that you cannot wait to discuss with everyone – be it to say “My god, was that just me or was that the most ridiculous way to end the story” or “Loved the plot but hated that woman, didn’t you?” or maybe just to say “I’m so in love with this book, I can’t stop thinking about the characters and wishing I was still reading it”.

For me there were several things that made me eventually want to get involved. Firstly, I’ve was getting tired of choosing books myself – I wanted to try reading outside the box as it were.

Then there was the urge sometimes to need to talk about a book when you’ve read it – take We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver as a prime example of that. The kind of book that you know not only splits your feelings completely down the middle but is likely to have the same effect on a group of people too – making for a really interesting discussion. Sometimes I can spend an hour talking on to my mum on Skype about one book we might have both recently read. Yes, we’re reading geeks, but hey, there are worse geek crimes!

And there was the idea in my head of how great it would be to have no other purpose of an evening but to sit around and talk about books over a nice glass of red… you know you see book clubs in movies and I am one of those people who goes ‘ohhh’ in a deflated manner, and always feels asthough I’m missing out because I’m not part of a book club. My mum is in one, my godmother, and my Aunty and some of the people at work… I felt left out!!

What prompted me to finally do something about it was that Mr OC was potentially going to have to work away for long periods of time – this didn’t actually happen in the end – so I wanted to find lots of things to occupy my time whilst he was gone. I looked on the local library website and they had an entire ‘Bookclub’ section – I emailed a couple of local groups and waited to hear back.

Unfortunately, everywhere I looked, the news was mostly bad – every group was full. Most groups limit their member numbers to the book quantity they can take out in a book club collection from the library – which is usually ten. However, one of the ladies running a local club emailed myself and three other ladies and suggested that although she couldn’t invite us into our group, that we might want to think about joining up and starting our own new group.

Anyone who knows me well knows I love a bit of organizing so I mailed the other ladies back to see if they wanted to start-up a club. Long story short it was just myself and one other lady so I decided to advertise our group – using Gumtree and the library website. That was back in March.

Now we have eleven members – (one too many, but we never have everyone there for every book, and other copies are available from the libraries, or some people like to buy them – a couple of us have Kindles) and are on our fourth book. It took until the last meeting to actually get an established group – if everyone who had originally responded to my ad came to the meetings there would have been about 20 people or more. And one lady even came once and then never came again… something we said? People are funny too – you can email them a really gentle (i.e. not of the hassling variety) email just to find out if they’re still interested (because you don’t want to keep emailing them details if they’ve now opted out and not informed you as such) and you never hear a word back.

Anyway – the age range we have in our book club I think makes for a really interesting discussion – we’re from 25 to late 50s with German, South African, British, and Australian nationalities all represented. And even if we get a book that everyone seems to hate you can guarantee there is someone who loved it. At the moment we are meeting at our local RSL but soon we’ll start meeting at each others’ homes – taking it in turns because it’s just a better environment… but you can’t exactly invite 10 strangers into your home initially!!

We take it in turns per month to nominate a book and we usually do it by what’s available in the library book club collections. But we’ve read books outside of that too – because although the library takes suggestions for its book club books, it’s competitive trying to get the books at the time you need them – you cannot reserve them, or go on a waiting list (although of course this may be different in other libraries). It’s dead cheap too -$25 for an annual fee to the library, then your cost of a drink (if you have one) per each monthly meeting. Friends and quality time = free!

So – two morals to this story – if you like books, want a wider range of reading and some friendly, like-minded people to chat to about all things bookish (and inevitably a whole heap of other stuff, as normally we also end up discussing things from how we met our husbands/partners to the state of the Australian immigration system!) then you should join or think about starting a book club. And if there is a hobby you’ve been meaning to spend more time doing – then get it done! Now, today! It feels good!!

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