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July 18, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Posted by carol
It's not always easy to find a book club to join --- or even to start your own. Guest blogger Trish Collins of Santa Rosa, California, shares the ups and downs of her search to find a reading group to call her own.

I have wanted to be in a book club ever since I figured out that while I love reading, discussing books and connecting with people over books is part of what makes reading so great. Unfortunately for me, I didn't know any other avid reader who wanted to start a book club.

But I kept my ears perked and one night when I was working my evening job at a restaurant I got a table of four ladies, all of whom had two books: Reading Lolita in Tehran and Lolita. When I went over to take their drink order, I casually asked about the books. They told me they were a book club that picked a book and met monthly at a different restaurant.

Brilliant! Combine eating out (which I love) with discussing books (which I love) could these ladies not see it as fate that I be in their club?

We volleyed book titles and authors back and forth, having read many of the same books and having the same feelings on those books. Bringing them their food, I was practically giddy to be able to talk to other people who loved books like I did. As their meal came to an end and they hadn't yet invited me into their club, I decided that it was up to me to "make the first move." As the ladies were leaving, I walked up to the most talkative one and handed her a card from the restaurant that had my email address scribbled on the back.

"If you ever have an opening in your book club, I'd love to join."

I'm sure I was blushing...I blush at everything. But hours turned into days and days into weeks, and it didn't take long before I realized they must not have an opening.

But that was okay. Because I was excited about a book club, and I would start one of my own! I talked to the only friend I had who was an avid reader. She agreed to be in my book club and even suggested a neighbor of hers. We met twice but it was awkward, the three of us trying to connect over books but not seeming to.

Not to be deterred, I casually mentioned to a co-worker about wanting to start a book club a while later at a new restaurant job, and she actually wanted to join. And other people wanted to join. THAT book club didn't last more than two meetings, though. It fizzled out quicker than I could blink.

Finally, I was at my current job, and looking through a newsletter I saw an advertisement asking if anyone wanted to be in a book club. Suh-weet! I could be in a book club and wouldn't have to organize it myself. After not hearing from the organizer for a while, I emailed her and she explained that life had gotten in the way and wouldn't be able to pull this together. I volunteered to make this happen, and once again enthusiasm in the beginning did not last. At a first meeting to meet each other and discuss what books we read, there was only me, a friend in my department who loves to read, and one of the ladies from the list of more than ten that I had been given. When my friend and I left the meeting, we were dejected because the other woman's taste in books would not be conducive to what we wanted in a book club. She liked John Grisham and lighter fare, and while my friend and I have both enjoyed those kinds of books, it's not what we wanted to read for a book club.

My friend and I decided we would start our OWN book club. Just the two of us. We picked We Need to Talk About Kevin, and boy did that give us something to talk about! As we started mentioning our newly formed book club to co-workers, people wanted to join. We decided on a date and time and told people to bring books they'd like to read.

Boy, was I surprised when it worked. Our first meeting seemed to go off without a hitch. It wasn't perfect, but we all have similar interests in books and can all commit to a book club. After all my failed attempts, I had wondered if this day would ever come. But it's finally here. I have a book club in the fledgling stage that looks promising. And even if it doesn't, the sixth time is the charm, right?

How many book clubs have you been a part of over the years?

--- Trish Collins