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April 27, 2016 / Retirementallychallenged.com

GratiTuesday: My book club

Apparently, I’m not very good at pre-scheduling posts… so this GratiTuesday is being posted on a Wednesday. I’ll be grateful if you can overlook my ineptness.

Finding a good book club was on my list of things to do once I retired. I had sampled various clubs over the years but none of them really resonated with me. Some had core groups that were so thick I didn’t think I could ever penetrate them and feel at ease. Some were much more about the social aspect than the literature so few members actually read the books, much less wanted to discuss them. One was so strict that missing even two meetings was grounds for being expelled.

IMG_4330I was looking for a club that had just the right mix of social interaction and intellectual stimulation. I wanted to feel like a welcomed member of the group and to be comfortable that most of the club’s reading selections would be books that I would enjoy. Being retired, I also needed it to be OK if I missed more than a meeting or two because of travel.

Then, out of the blue, a new friend mentioned that her book club wanted to expand its membership and asked if I’d be interested. She assured me that the club meetings were lively and fun but also the members were serious about the books. Since I knew her to be friendly, smart, funny, and interesting, I figured that her friends would the same.

Now, after six months, I am grateful to be able to say that I’ve found my book club. I have met a group of terrific women who made me feel welcome from the start. I have enjoyed books that I may have otherwise missed and discovered a couple of authors I liked so much that I have read more novels by them. Not all of the selected books have been great—we all have different tastes and interests—but the discussions have been lively and insightful. Each month, a different member chooses a book and hosts the meeting at her home. The atmosphere is always cozy and comfortable, and, because we enjoy breaking bread together, there is always good food and wine.

Just the right amount of serious and social.

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35 Comments

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  1. Kristine Puzel / Apr 27 2016 11:34 am

    I am glad you found a book club that you like! It is interesting how the clubs have such different personalities, and objectives! And what a great motivation to look at new and different books and authors! Plus, you know what they say….an important part of aging (not that your are old!) is social connections. Sounds like a really good enhancement to life overall!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 11:40 am

      They really do have different personalities! The last one I tried before finding my current club met at the local library. Not cozy at all and many of the books they chose were painful to read.

  2. dconnollyislandgmailcom / Apr 27 2016 11:34 am

    Hi, Janis – I totally share your interest in joining a great book club in retirement. It took me 6 months to find a book club in my area that was accepting new members. I just got news that a new book club is being formed in our town…and I am on the list! Hopefully our new club will be similar to what you described…yours sounds perfect!
    Donna
    http://www.retirementteflectiins.com

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 11:44 am

      There is a sweet spot between too few members and too many so I think it’s a good sign that the new club has a list of potential members, rather than opening it up to everyone. I hope that your club is just what you are looking for!

  3. Kate Crimmins / Apr 27 2016 11:38 am

    You are lucky. My sis-in-law wanted me to join her club. I looked at their reading list and gasped. They did a mix of the really old classics with some contemporary thrown in. Not big on Chaucer myself. I would prefer more current books with an occasional oldie (but not that old) thrown in.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 11:48 am

      I agree! I have read a few oldies and have wondered why they are considered classics. Some have stood the test of time, but I think many are revered just because they are old. I prefer to read more contemporary books for the club and read any classics on my own. Historical novels are my favorite (I guess a good combination of old and new).

  4. Keith / Apr 27 2016 12:24 pm

    The right group with the right attitude about things is a treasure. Relish in it. I am delighted you found each other, Janis. Read and enjoy. Keith

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 1:10 pm

      Thank you, Keith! So many books, so little time!

      • Keith / Apr 27 2016 1:21 pm

        Janis, I have gotten in a bad habit of starting books, but not finishing. I probably have a dozen that are dogeared. And, I love books. Best wishes on your club. Keith

  5. Anabel Marsh / Apr 27 2016 1:04 pm

    I really like my book group too. Even when we don’t enjoy the book (and we often find we like and dislike the same titles) it always sparks a discussion wher we put the world to rights. If only they’d listen to us, that is.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 1:11 pm

      It’s so important to have “saving the world” as part of your book club’s agenda! I’m glad that you have found a great book club too.

  6. Carol Ferenc / Apr 27 2016 1:18 pm

    Finding the right book club is not as simple as it sounds. Previously I was in a club that was awful and I quit within six months. Now I’m in a club I really enjoy. In general the books we read aren’t too serious, but still prompt plenty of meaningful, lively discussions. I’m glad you found the right club, Janis!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 1:55 pm

      It’s not simple at all! Just like joining any group, it’s important to make sure you have the right fit. And, coming into an existing club can be hard… especially if you are a bit of an introvert like I am.

  7. joannesisco / Apr 27 2016 1:24 pm

    I’ve never belonged to a book club. Quite frankly, I’m not sure it would be my *thing* largely because I’m not really a *club* kind of person. What does sound very attractive is meeting regularly with like-minded people to have intelligent and thoughtful conversation.
    Congratulations on finding one that fits you well!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 1:58 pm

      I’m not much of a joiner either, that’s why it took awhile to find a group that felt right. I do enjoy reading and I appreciate learning about books that I might not have otherwise discovered, so being in a book club works for me.

      • joannesisco / Apr 27 2016 2:17 pm

        I enjoy reading too, I just don’t get to do a lot of it. Virtually all my reading happens at night before bedtime. I’m lucky if I get 30 minutes of it.

        • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 27 2016 2:25 pm

          Me too! That’s why I reserve the books from the library well in advance of our meetings. I’m reading the book for June now so I can make sure I’m done in time.

          • joannesisco / Apr 27 2016 5:16 pm

            ahhh – so there is a trick to it 😉

  8. patwdoyle11 / Apr 27 2016 1:41 pm

    A book club is on my list of new things to try in retirement. I have not yet tried to find a club that fits…but, not surprising, I love your criteria. I’m stealing it for when I start looking.

  9. Peta Kaplan / Apr 27 2016 1:47 pm

    Sounds perfect. It’s always about finding the right fit, the niche, the personal comfort zone. Happy reading!

  10. snakesinthegrass2014 / Apr 27 2016 5:05 pm

    Congrats on your finding what sounds like a perfect balance to what you were looking for. In theory I’ve always liked the idea of a book club, but then there’s that whole you must read the book by the next meeting thing. I’m a slow reader. So that’s always stopped me. And like Joanne I’m not much of a joiner. Still, what I like about it is that it would force me to read more and not dawdle over a book like I do presently. Hope some interesting book reviews are in your future. Enjoy!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 29 2016 1:32 pm

      Besides the social aspect of the book club, I love that it introduces me to books I may not have read. I’m a slow reader too (I usually read just before going to sleep so often it’s only a few pages at a time) so I try to get the books well in advance giving me plenty of time to finish. I also try to get them from the library to save money and avoid leftover book clutter.

  11. Polly Huffman / Apr 28 2016 11:56 am

    I’m so glad you found a book group that is a good fit. I haven’t been in one for a few years now and miss being with other women who love to read, the lively discussions and finding new authors and books I wouldn’t other wise have read. The last group I was in faded away gradually and I just haven’t had the drive to seek out another.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 29 2016 1:34 pm

      I can’t imagine you without a book club! I’m sure you’ll find your tribe one of these days and get back into one… or, start your own.

  12. lisadorenfest / Apr 28 2016 9:16 pm

    A good book club is hard to find …definitely something to be grateful for. I was never able to find the right on in NYC and now forget about while I’m living the life of a vagabond 🙂

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 29 2016 1:36 pm

      I would imagine it’s hard to find a book club at sea, or for the short period of time you are on land. I wonder of there’s such a thing as a book club using FaceTime or Skype?

  13. Terri Webster Schrandt / Apr 28 2016 9:56 pm

    This is fabulous, Janis! What a gold mine you discovered. Socializing, reading, glass of wine? Sounds like blogging! LOL. You are indeed lucky. My daughter is struggling to find a club in the Bay Area with the right mix. I guess it is not that easy, as you say. Enjoy!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 29 2016 1:38 pm

      I hope your daughter is able to find a club that resonates with her. I know that Meet-Up often has clubs listed.

  14. betsysbeat / Apr 29 2016 11:31 am

    Glad you found a great book club! I’ve been in one for over 10 years, and for many years when I was working hard and raising my son, it was my only regular social life. I love every single woman in the group and they’ve become some of my closest friends. One of my favorite traditions is that when a member has a milestone birthday (40, 50, 60) we go on a special trip together. We’ve been to Ventura, Palm Springs, Sunriver, OR (where a member has a second home) and in July to NYC (to stay with one of our members who moved)! And, we actually read our books and discuss each month. As you mentioned, I appreciate that I’ve read some wonderful books I might not have read otherwise.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 29 2016 1:42 pm

      I love the idea of celebrating milestone birthdays! I think our club has a getaway once a year (if not, I’m going to suggest it)… but closer to home. We did a gift exchange at Christmas that was fun. I love that both of our clubs are more than just sitting around discussing books.

  15. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com / Apr 30 2016 1:35 pm

    Hi Janis! I’m jealous! In theory I would love to belong to a book club but have never taken the time in my local community to seek one out. If I lived closer to you I would be asking for an invitation. Maybe, just maybe I need to take the time to do this in the near future. Thanks for the nudge! ~Kathy

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / May 1 2016 5:20 pm

      You would fit in our group beautifully! I hope that you’ll be able to find a good one once you decide to look around. They all have distinct personalities – which, of course, can change as people leave and others join. Some focus on specific genres too, so it’s important to make sure you’ll like the books as well as the members. Good luck!

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