I started my first book club in 1991. I had a group of book nerd friends, and I’d heard about this new thing called a book club where we read the same book and got together to talk about it. Inside me, a mile long “Squeeeee!” unleashed itself. OK, I was a lot younger then and sometimes made noises like that. Believe it or not, I still had friends.
Since those early days of Doritos and boxed wine that was my first book club in my 20s, I’ve taken part in numerous book clubs. I’ve started a few (one is still going…but, sadly, without me) and joined a few. Usually my writing takes a priority and I have to drop out. But there have been times I’ve dropped out because I was reading books I didn’t like, but was still the only one who finished. Nobody wants to be that person.
The perfect chemistry of a good book club is an illusive thing. I think most book clubs have a secret yearning to be like the book club in The Jane Austen Book Club where everyone is great pals and someone invites a hunky guy who likes Jane Austen. But I think we count ourselves lucky to find a group of people we enjoy spending the evening with whether everyone has read the book or not.
When I realized I wanted to include a book club in my novel, I talked to a lot of friends who were in book clubs and asked them if I could sit in on one of their meetings. That’s right! I researched book clubs. I didn’t really know what the chemistry of my novel’s book club would be. On one of these research visits, someone told me about a book club a friend of hers ran in another state. She told me the club had 20 members and that they all sat around in a circle and took turns saying what they thought of the book, all dictated by the one woman who organized the whole thing. I don’t know about you, but to the book-lover in me, this sounded dreadful! But to the writer in me, this was music to my ears. I’d found the perfect book club for my novel. And that’s how the Silicon Valley Women’s Executive Association Book Club (SVWEABC for short) was born.
Even though I found the perfect book club for my novel, the perfect book club for me still eludes me. Even now, after over 20 years of starting my first book club, I still long for that one evening a month that I know will always be fun and entertaining and overflowing in friendship. And if we’re lucky, we’ll talk about the book.
So what about you? Are you in a book club? What do you think makes a great club? How many bottles of wine do you go through during a meeting? Seriously! I want to know!