I was reminded of my book club days today when I was at the book store. A woman next to me had asked the cashier if a copy of a particular book had arrived that she needed to read for her next club meeting. It was my lunch hour and I was perusing the aisles searching for a good read. I found Alice right where I knew she would be. The last copy of Munro’s ‘Best Stories’ and I headed to the check out right behind book club lady.
I was about to say a few years ago, but really it was almost ten now, we had been relocated to St. Stephen, New Brunswick for what was going to be a short 18mth stint. A border town, we quickly became used to driving back and forth between New Brunswick and Maine for milk and gas. I think it’s a bit harder to do that now, but at the time it was no big issue. The border guards got used to seeing residents go back and forth and knew the reasons for the regular visits even before their customary interrogation.
In order to meet some new people, the wife of the real estate agent we used to secure a house suggested I join her one evening for her book club meeting. “Do you like reading?” I explained my expansive collection and she told me the title of their newest read and where to find it. “See you there.”
I can’t exactly remember the very first meeting, but I do recall it was colorful. And the women were not what I was expecting. Two older women in their sixties who were retired teachers and the ‘leaders’ of the group issued the suggested readings for each new book, and were certainly the most astute of our little group. They took the club very seriously and initiated conversations regarding the characters and the setting, plot analysis usually followed and then we got down to the stuff they were really there to chat about. The town gossip. Ugh. Since I was a newbie, I was quite happy to be isolated from this part of the evening.
Initially, the books were dished out on a biweekly basis, but since the majority of the ladies in the group had full-time employment, the assignment of reading a new book every two weeks and then analyzing it, became a task too great. The meetings were rescheduled to monthly sessions that surrounded tea drinking and some Polish Princess references too over-the-top even for the die-hard group members. I was regularly asked my opinion on the assigned books and I hoped I was able to give a somewhat intelligent answer…you know, other than ‘I liked it’. I can’t remember, but I do remember being asked regarding our next selections. I usually left that to the die-hards to dish out. I still had small kids demanding my attention and a new job to contend with. Searching reads for everyone to get their hands on with one library in town and a book store across the border, it was a bit tough for the ten of us to find the book we needed and have it read before the next meeting. I did not want to be in charge of that little experience. The book titles were emailed at the beginning of each month, or if someone was on the ball, by the time the meeting came around we were alerted to the next book for the next meeting. Somehow, we all managed.
Shortly before we moved I believe book club hit the skids and disbanded. The Polish Princesses perhaps became too much for the average working woman to contend with. Maybe the whole analyzing thing took second stage to the gossiping…it happens. I wonder if the club got back together to read Fifty Shades? THAT would have been one hell of a series of trash meetings….
Whatever the reason, book club became a blip in my memory until today. It was enjoyable while it lasted and I was able to read a few interesting reads and be introduced to some new authors that I otherwise may have overlooked. Some I liked, some I trashed, but for the most part, book club was a positive experience for me. Polish Princesses and all….