I am so envious of women who are longtime members of book groups. I have tried to be such a member, really I have, but I have failed. I’m currently in my third book group and scared to death that they will learn my membership practically demands that the group disband within a year or so, but so far, so good.
My first book group, which launched about a decade after I graduated from college, was primarily a way for some old high school friends to regularly reunite in a neighboring town, so the meetings were by necessity sporadic. I remember that we read The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard, whose main character I thought was whiny, and next came a nonfiction book by whoever was the Pope back then. While I don’t remember much about the Pope’s book, I don’t have any negatives associated with it, so we can assume he wasn’t whiny. But the high school friends were headed to different jobs and different towns, and our group—if not the lifelong friendships—fell by the wayside.
A few years later, I joined a group of local women in my own town to form a new book group. Our group included a fellow church member, a coworker, a friend of the coworker, and a new friend I’d met through my job. The book I most remember us reading was Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter, a dreary tale that I absolutely hated but which others absolutely loved. But some of the book group members thought some of the other book group members dominated the discussion too much (not me! I know what you’re thinking!), and alas, that group disbanded as well.
Earlier this year, a friend suggested forming an online book group on Facebook. “Great!” I thought. “If we don’t meet in person, maybe this can work!” I’m not sure I’m good book group material, though. I think most people are predisposed to like the book that is being read. I am predisposed not to like it until the author proves me wrong. Happily, I have actually enjoyed the first two books we read this year (Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile), tolerated that so-so third one just fine (Still Waters by Viveca Sten), and am looking forward to re-reading the book that’s been chosen for our fourth monthly selection (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle). On top of all that, I like the other women in the new book group and am enjoying learning their opinions. So I’ve managed to remain a member of a new book group for an entire first quarter of the year, and I must say this fills me with hope. If any of you readers belong to a book group, I’d love to hear about it!