In March 2013, I was just out of hospital. As my first gentle re-entry into the world, I was taken to a book fair in a nearby town. (Books always make me feel better, so it was an inspired choice of destination.) Over lunch, we got talking to some other visitors to the book fair. Somehow, one conversational thread led to another, and before we knew it, we found ourselves, without any prior experience or intention, talking about starting a book club.
And that, more or less, is how this book club was born. We started off with a preliminary meeting, from which we emerged with a sense that we wanted to challenge ourselves to expand our literary horizons – even the most voracious readers fall into patterns, consciously or unconsciously, and we warned to break those – and that was more or less it. We agreed to make it up as we went along, and so, we have found ourselves carrying on and thriving.
The note taking started accidentally (there appears to be a theme of fortuitous chance developing here…), but as the months have passed, it has been interesting to be able to look back and make comparisons with earlier books. The conversations have become more animated; people have started to allow themselves to disagree more fully and creatively, and talk more freely about the ways in which their own lives and experiences are colouring their reading (and writing) experiences inside and outside the book club. In this metamorphosis at least, we have seen ourselves start to resemble the book clubs so often depicted in our beloved books.
Speaking about this book club to our bookish friends and family who live far away has always elicited reactions along the lines of ‘oh I wish I lived closer so I could participate’. It made me think that there might be others who can’t make their way to our in-person gatherings, but might like to engage virtually nevertheless. I hope putting our discussions online will encourage them to join in.