Hello, and happy Literary Saturday! This week I want to send a big, loving, grateful anniversary wish to all of my book club girls. This month Dinner Club With a Reading Problem is celebrating four years together. Four years! And I am so happy.
What started as just a fun way to socialize and indulge in a favorite past-time has blossomed into a truly nourishing wellspring. Something that feeds us and challenges us in unexpected ways. What a wonderful surprise to discover such a sisterhood at this stage in life.
Over the past four years our membership and attendance has fluctuated a bit, ranging from the four original women to about 26 at one point, now hovering at close to a dozen. Most of our gatherings enjoy the energy and glow of nine or ten amazing friends who feel a lot like sisters now. Sometimes our husbands or children make happy appearances. And a few times we’ve welcomed out-of-town guests, which is the best. We’ve also been incredibly fortunate to interview our chosen authors three times.
We schedule dinners about every six to eight weeks, depending on the time of the year. The hostess sets a food theme, sometimes related to the book and sometimes to the season, and we all run with it to build a ridiculous pot-luck style feast. The DCWRP ladies are all excellent cooks and luxurious shoppers, so no one goes home hungry! Our name, after all, points clearly to our food obsession. By this time next week we will have gathered at Kerri’s house to discuss Goldfinch, and the dinner theme is salads. I am so excited! Because, KALE.
We take our carbs seriously.
Though the aim of each gathering is to review and discuss the book we’ve just read, then plan the next event, book club now is all about the friendship we share. We have become closely knitted together, and no matter what is happening is each other’s life we always feel safe and supported. We share marriage and dating stuff, changing family dynamics, career stress, grief, joy. All of it. We are a group of excellent listeners, and if that isn’t the breeding ground for friendship then I don’t know what is.
An excerpt from The Help.
We’ve experienced ups and downs ourselves, too. Like any group of friends (especially women?) we have had conflict and separation, then gentle and happy reunions, and we’ve learned a lot about each other along the way. This book club has a wonderful momentum that just carries us not only from one title to the next but from one life event to the next. And I am so grateful.
Speaking of titles, I should be ale to tell you easily how many books we’ve read together, but I can’t. It’s a lot, that’s for sure. We probably read six or eight per year, at different paces depending on the volume and the busy-ness of the months. (Ahem, Bonhoeffer anyone?) Sometimes we choose two books at once if we are craving two types of literary nourishment.
Our book selection process is a bit random, but it does allow everyone a chance to have input. We simply draw names at the end of each meeting, and that person comes to the next discussion dinner with the title we’ll read that next go-round. This way she has time to look around and make a great choice. With such a variety of personalities and lifestyles in our little tribe, we have enjoyed a wide array of reading material. I love it so much!! Most books we read I might never have considered on my own, and everyone would probably say the same.
When I wished my friends a Happy Fourth Book Club Anniversary, a few of them offered these sweet words…
This warms my heart!
And just for fun, here is a list of wacky traditions we’ve accidentally formed at Dinner Club With a Reading Problem:
- Whenever possible, we get Amber to narrate aloud a racy passage from whatever book we’re discussing. She has the perfect voice and sultry countenance for it. It’s awesome.
- We always eventually descend into uproarious laughter. We’re neither quiet nor terribly ladylike. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- Somehow we always work into the conversation something about whether or not we wash our new bed sheets before using them. It’s a more divisive topic than you’d expect.
- Melissa brings us the most amazing coconut-lime cake you have ever even dreamed of. It’s the perfect balance of delicate and decadent, and when she brings it we know it’s a special occasion.
- Stephanie is our group’s token non-reader, but she does make a valiant effort. We love to check in with her to see if she has read more this time, and she loves to tease us about whether a book is being made into a movie.
- Everyone loves to tease me about two books I have chosen over time: Don Quixote and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Just, whatever you guys.
- We have an official logo hand drawn by Joanna, and we’ve made it into t-shirts! In fact I am wearing mine as I type this.
The world is filled with all sorts of book clubs. Big and small, corporate and private. They’re all special. But none of them compares to this group. Dinner Club With a Reading Problem possesses a magic which none of us has alone. As a group we enjoy something that makes each of us better, and this coming year I look forward to seeing how we push that energy out into the world. Ideas abound!
Thank you for your friendship, ladies. Thank you for every page we’ve read together, for every bite of sweet and savory food we’ve shared. Thank you for the tears and laughter. You are the shiz-nay. Happy Anniversary!!
“That’s What She Said.”
~All of us at some point