Blog Hunter: In Da (Book) Club
For my first instalment of “Shit 30-year-olds Do”, I decided to start with a milestone that, along with taking up knitting or getting a subscription to Canadian Living, has long been associated with being old and lame: starting a Book Club!
In my early-to-mid 20s, I cruelly mocked anyone who suggested that we form a reading group. What’s next, I asked, Saturday trips to Home Depot and exchanging tips on 20-minute-meals your whole family will enjoy? NO THANKS, MOM. But as the years went by and I graduated from University and Law School, I found myself also graduating from beer pong, walks of shame, social smoking and wearing outfits that often did not include pants (I tend to save these activities for special occasions now, like my birthday or Thursday nights). As a newly minted 30-year-old, the things that get my nipples hard today include buying organic groceries, keeping plants alive and picking out paint colours for my dining room. Sigh.
The upside to entering my Carlsberg years is that I’m finally starting to figure out who I am and what the balls I’m supposed to be doing in this heartless world, and as a result I’ve started to care a lot more about everything: animal cruelty, gay rights, a birth controlling robot becoming President of the United States, my double chin – everything. My new obsession with bigger-picture issues has brought with it the desire to read and learn more about these topics, and to talk about them with people who, like me, have replaced their former addiction to gossiping with a bloodlust for self-education. Enter the Book Club.
Book Clubs are not just for Oprah’s minions anymore! When properly executed (as per my handy instructions, below), they are incredibly fun, stimulating and encouraging. They force you to think about ideas and situations you’ve never analyzed before, plus you can go to sleep at night knowing you’re doing LeVar Burton proud. I’ve been in a Book Club with 15 lady-humans for about a year and a half now, and by some Christmas miracle, it’s still going strong. Here’s how we do:
1. The Guest List: If you assemble a group that consists of only microbiologists / second wave feminists / stay-at-home dads, you’re going to wind up only talking about bird flu / Title IX / this season of Yo Gabba Gabba. In our group we have a broad spectrum of 30-something players, including lawyers, artists, moms and PR agents who are liberals, A-types, existentialists and narcissists. Our miscellaneous congregation ensures that we get to hear and defend many different points of view and have controversial, weird, and heated discussions. Sometimes having to listen to someone else’s opinion can make you want to punch them in the vag, but it still makes you smarter. I read that somewhere.
2. Size Matters: I recommend trying to gather about 12 -15 peeps into your intellectual wolf pack. Any more than 15, and bitches get sidetracked into mini-discussions with the people sitting beside them about Michelle Obama’s nails or their newly discovered gluten allergy. Our monthly meeting usually consists of around 10 she-geeks, even though there are 15 of us in total, because every single time, a handful of ladies (binder full of women) back out at the last minute because they’re “stuck at work” or “taking care of their kid”. These are thinly veiled excuses for “but it’s cold outside and I’m already inside”, or “I accidentally watched the first season of Revenge instead of reading the book”. Which is fine, because no 30-year-old Torontonian can fit more than 10 people into their $1600/month “1 bedroom” anyway.
3. Timing is Everything (or at least something): Every Book Club starts off all ambitious-like. After the first meeting goes well, people make crazy promises to meet every 2 or 3 weeks (we can TOTALLY read The Fountainhead in 14 days!). Don’t do this. 30-year-olds are busy and important. Most of us have something that loosely resembles a career, which we have to juggle with battling cellulite, Instagramming and going to another fucking wedding. Usually 4-6 weeks per book is a fair amount of time.
4. Let Them Eat (Vegan, Non-Dairy) Cake: Every month, a different person takes on the role of welcoming the group into her home and letting us judge her (aka making us dinner). Seems like a lot of work, but if there are more than 10 people in your Library Gang and you meet every 4-6 weeks, you only end up hosting once a year and getting a ton of free dinners in return – wooh! Everyone besides the host brings some brain-juice (wine) and the end result is delicious. Of course, your Book Club doesn’t need to have a food / drink / hosting option – you could very well just get together in an empty field once a month armed with nothing but your passion for reading, but I just got bored and hungry typing that. Sitting down to a nice family-style meal together is a great bonding experience and makes everyone feel cozy and relaxed. Hemingway and Mac’n’Cheese – can you think of anything more delightful? So can I, but whatever.
5. Picking a Winner: The biggest challenge you’ll face is picking a great book every month. I think the best way to go about discovering a new opus is to read something that someone in the group has already devoured and loved. We’ve found most of our favourite books this way. Sure, it’s kind of shitty for the nerd who already read it, but she can throw herself into her latest homemade pickling project that month while everyone else reads 60 Shades of Brown.
Wendy’s Book Club Picks: We’ve had some gems and some garbage juice over the past year. Here are some of the novels our Book Club loved: Room, The Sisters Brothers, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Gone Girl, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Lonely Polygamist, Infidel, and The Monster of Florence. And for good measure, DON’T read these – they made us want to kill puppies: Super Sad True Love Story, The Tiger’s Wife, The Bishop’s Man.
November’s Blog Hunter is Wendy: a 30-year-old law-talker who loves babies, eating, and the proper use of the oxford comma. She dislikes pants and humans who don’t call themselves feminists. You can read more of her insomnia-driven ramblings here.