Monday, June 22, 2009

No Stress Book Club

About three years ago I tried to start a book club with my girlfriends in town. We had fun the first month, good the second time around but after about four books it just petered out. It was just too much: getting everyone to agree on a book, deciding who was going to host, deciding which night it would be, who was coming, who was going to e-mail who, who would bring what for snacks - there were so many variables it was doomed from the start! It wasn't doomed because we didn’t enjoy it - when we actually got it all together, we had a great time. It was doomed because it was complicated.

Doomed does not equal forgotten. Whenever two or more of us were gathered the topic would come up… "we really should do book club again". Then somewhere on the Internet I stumbled across what we decided was the perfect idea. We stole it and renamed it the No Stress Book Club. Rule One is.. Read whatever you want. Then you bring what you read to the gathering and tell us all about it. The book goes onto the table in the middle.(That's Rule Two - you have to be willing to part with your book) After everyone has had a chance to talk about their selections, we all get to pick something from the pile and go home with a new book. Do you have to read that book for next month? NO! That goes back to Rule One - Read whatever you want!

We made it easier logistically too. We picked a night and we're sticking to it, bringing any kind of food is optional - bring if you like, don’t if you don’t. My house is always available to host and I make all sorts of great martinis so even if no food appears - we'll have martinis! And the day I picked is the one day a week I have a housekeeper that comes so there is no effort involved in preparing my house - it's done! This way Rule Three - come if you can, don’t if you don’t want to, no RSVP needed - doesn't worry me because I'm not cooking or cleaning especially for the group. If only one person appears, that's fine - I haven't put out any extra effort. (Of course "no effort" is not entirely true, I did use the gathering as an excuse to buy a big, beautiful new palm for my entry way and will probably use it as an excuse every month to buy pretty new things but that's just for me to know!)

We had out first meeting last night - bibliophiles that we all are, everyone brought two or three books rather than just one! There was a heavy lean towards historical fiction and a heated discussion about Katherine of Aragon's virginity at the time of her marriage to Henry VIII - some believing she was chaste with her first husband, others convinced their romance led to consummation. The camps were pretty much divided by those who had read The Queens' Lady and those who had read The Constant Princess! At the end of the night I had a few new books but ALL of my books were still on the table. Not sure what that says about me that no one was enticed by anything I had read the last month!


Kalynne Pudner said...

What a fabulous idea! I've never been able to do a book club before (fear of commitment)...this sounds perfect. Can I come?

Barb said...

We had the ultimate no-stress book club back in Texas, albeit more traditional than yours. It was the Never Leave Your Lawn Chair Book Club and the idea was to hold it for three months and then drop it. Three years later, it's still going strong. Whoever hosts, picks the book. Everybody brings something to eat and drink. 6:30 to 9:00 on the first Tuesday of the month.

Oh, how I miss it!