“Things usually work out in the end.” “What if they don’t?” “That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.” ― Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
What kind of books does your Book Club read?
For the past 15 years, a group of women from different backgrounds and relationship status’, with an age range of give/take 50 years, and an always-changing array of hair colors, have come together on a monthly basis to, in theory, read and talk about a book. (It is in fact a ‘no stress’ book club, so reading the book is not mandatory. It’s more important that we spend time together and stay connected!)
RARELY, very RARELY, do we agree on a book. Penny likes happy books (no ‘Oprah books’). Judy is in several book clubs so she reads lots and all kinds of books. Anne and I rarely read the books but love hearing our girlfriends share about them.
A few years ago we read a book that almost all of us LOVED. In the spirit of inspiring you to start a Book Club or get you to share what you and your book club are reading in the comments below, following is a review of that special book that has yet to be replaced as the most read and most loved selection for our neighborhood girlfriend book club. (Thanks to the fabulous Judy for keeping us organized and for sharing the following book club book review! Here’s her book club review on Ann Patchett’s ‘State of Wonder.‘)
The Glass Castle is an amazing memoir written by Jeannette Walls. Walls grew up with parents who were not accepting of the responsibility of parenthood. Her mother painted, read, and could not be bothered to fix food for her children. Her father drank, stole money and left for days at a time. Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves and support one another. She presents her parents, with all their faults at their worst, without anger or judgment and often with humor.
We often think neglected children would be better off removed from their home and brought into houses with good food, warm beds and parents. But we could also argue that being taken away from the only home and the only family they know could do more harm than good. Jeannette is a good example of what someone can become with the support of someone (even siblings) who love you and supports your goals.
This book gave me hope that no matter how messed up a person’s childhood is, there is still a chance to end up as productive member of society. After reading this story you realize that it does not take lots of money or material things to “make it” in the world.
The Glass Castle lends itself to a number of interesting discussion topics:
Parenting styles – the siblings never doubted they were loved but their parents did not show their love in conventional ways.
Sibling bonds – how important is it to have siblings to go through childhood with.
Foster care – is it always better to remove a child from neglecting parents.
Has your Book Club read ‘The Glass Castle?’ What’s your review? What are you reading? What book(s) does your Book Club enjoy reading? Share below!
Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.
― Ann Patchett, State Of Wonder
Do you have a BOOK CLUB? If so, what are you reading? Any advice for other girlfriends who have girlfriends?
My girlfriend book club meets this week. We have three rules: 1. The books have to be in paperback/the library. 2. You don’t HAVE to read the book. (It’s a ‘no stress’ book club – we’re really there to see our girlfriends! Which leads us to …) 3. You just have to be there and have fun with your friends.
We love the girlfriend tradition of Book Clubs. It’s a wonderful ‘excuse’ to get the girls together on a regular basis and to enjoy life together.
So, in the spirit of Girlfriendology – and women sharing women’s wisdom, I asked the ‘leader’ of my book club to share her recommendations for book club selections. Thanks Judy for sharing this review for girlfriend book clubs:
Dr. Marina Singh is a medical researcher for a large pharmaceutical company. She is sent to Brazil to investigate the mysterious death of her lab partner. Marina meets Dr. Annick Swenson who is developing a fertility drug for the company. Dr. Swenson has found a tribe of women in the Amazon who are fertile all of their lives. She is hopeful that a drug developed will solve the problems of millions of infertile women.
Patchett has developed strong characters in Dr. Annick Swenson who is self absorbed but sympathetic; Dr. Marina Sing, who displays a complex mix of traits; and Easter, the endearing young deaf boy. The characters are true to life making good and bad decisions. Every character deals with something – greed, delight, righteousness, love or fear.
State Of Wonder explores the role of doctors in the lives of a native tribe. It asks the question of how far should a pharmaceutical company go in the development of a new drug. It also asks the question – Just because technology has developed to a point where we are able to do things, should we?
State Of Wonder is a great book club book because it raises so many possibilities for discussion.
Thanks Judy! See you this week at Book Club! (What are we reading this month? Austenland – check it out!)
What is YOUR Book Club reading? What’s your favorite Book Club book? Share and inspire!
Other great girlfriend traditions and book club recommendations:
Our recipe for de-stressing? Spend the evening with your girlfriend book club, enjoy some wine and appetizers, and forget all the cares of the world!
That describes my evening last night with my neighborhood book club. We have our girlfriend get-together book club (aka: wine party!) monthly, taking turns in each of our homes. The host stocks up on wine and each of us bring an appetizer or dessert to share. We always have plenty of food and wonderful conversations as we share our lives, treats and our reviews of what’s going on in the neighborhood, updates on travels and health concerns, and finally our opinions on the book.
One of the benefits of female friendship is that it reduces stress (which greatly impacts our health as well). One of the benefits of our girlfriend book club is that it’s a ‘no-stress’ book club. Reading the book is optional, attending and having a wonderful time with wonderful women is not!
We looked to our girlfriends at CookingWithCaitlin.com for another way to keep it stress-free. Not only are they some of our favorite female friends (two sisters, Caitlin and Kelly, and their BFF, Molly), but they also have lots of culinary inspiration like the CHEDDAR PUFFS APPETIZER (that just happens to be lactose intolerant-friendly!). It would be perfect for a book club or even just a Friday night of having the girls over for a girl’s night in.
Whatever you and your book club are reading, whatever you’re eating or drinking, wherever your meeting, remember to enjoy the moments with your girlfriends. Listen to the laughter. Feel the friendship and support. And just de-stress. Life is good, when you have girlfriends!
Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend.
“Would you like to join a book club?”
Some of us leap at the invitation. Some of us sputter an excuse before the questions is even finished, sure that this is not for them. Some of us dither, not sure if we want to commit to reading a book chosen by someone else, yet eager for the companionship and camaraderie book clubs are supposed to provide. And still others of us are caught like a deer in the headlights, wishing we knew whether this was going to be one of the “good” book clubs or … something less than wonderful.
Guest blogger BETSY TALBOT has devised a new kind of book club. A club that spends its time nurturing the members and their thoughts rather than dissecting the book and its author. Sounds like a pretty wonderful club to be in, right girlfriend?
Imagine this: A group of ten or more women of various ages and backgrounds gathering together in a cozy living room to enjoy food, drink, and quality conversation. Maybe there is soft music playing in the background, but there is certainly no television, cell phone ringing, or distractions from kids or mates. The night is only about the women in this room and the ideas, questions, and conflicts they wish to discuss. There is teaching, learning, and bonding in this room, but there is also laughter, occasional dirty talk, and plenty of secrets.
What happens in the group stays in the group.
It may sound far-fetched to find a gathering like this, but it isn’t. You can have this exact experience every single month by creating a modern-day version of the book club.
Before you tell me you’ve tried it already, your friends won’t read the books, or it doesn’t interest you to discuss what the writer was thinking as she penned a particular phrase, I’m with you. I agree with you 100% and I wouldn’t go to that book club either.
The book club I’m proposing is all about the topic, not the book.
The most interesting person of the night is not the author, but each woman as she has the floor.
The discussion is not about the motivations of the characters in the book, but the driving force and focus of the women in the room.
In short, the book is the instigator for the discussion that follows, and while most members will read it, it isn’t actually necessary for the purposes of discussion. It is a starting point for you to talk through the issues of the day, the life transitions and problems in your own life and how the women around you have dealt with them. It is about sharing your dreams and aspirations with women who can help you make them happen. It is being able to say something without judgment and know you aren’t alone in your feelings.
It is a way to talk about things that never get talked about in everyday conversation: confidence, fear, gratitude, loneliness, overwhelm, and passion.
How to Start Your Modern Book Club
I was a member of a book club just like this for two years before I left my adopted city of Seattle to travel the world. In fact, it is one of the few things I miss about my old life and why I advocate it so strongly.
Here are the basic steps for setting up your own modern-day book club:
Step 1: Invite Thoughtful Women
Make a list of about five to ten women you know and respect. You may already know them well or just hope to know them better. I like using a service like Evite to set the tone of the evening, including the name of the book, and what it is about.
Step 2: Prepare a Menu
As hostess you prepare the main dish. An economical and labor saving idea is to have each person bring a dish or drink so the load is not too heavy on you.
Step 3: Set the Mood
A summer evening in the backyard needs no other music than the crickets, but if you meet indoors, some soft music to go along with the book would be ideal.
Step 4: Start the Discussion
My book club friends will tell you I hate standard book club questions. I usually don’t give a rat’s ass what the author was thinking when she wrote the book. What I want to know is what my friends are thinking about what she wrote and how it applies to our lives. This is where the juicy conversations start.
In an ongoing book club, the leader of the discussion is the previous month’s hostess.
Step 5: Enjoy the After-party
Once you finish discussing something deep, sexy, powerful, revealing, or inspirational, you’ll need some downtime before you start heading home. Go back to the kitchen for dessert and coffee, return the conversation to a lighter form, and enjoy the warmth in the room.
The feeling you get from this kind of supportive environment can keep you energized all month long. Your members may come and go, but a book club built on these principles will thrive for years to come.
We as a gender tend to love to read and then talk about what we’ve read. We form Book Clubs and go even if we haven’t read the book! We also love to write books and form writing groups with other women who share our passion for books and writing. And, interestingly, romance fiction (a typically female only genre) is the largest segment of book sales – we kinda are a big deal in the book world! (:
So, we asked you for some of your favorite book club books. You know … books for women, recommended by (you guessed it) other women, aka: girlfriends.
Being in online / digital world, we also know there are some great eBooks for women, eBooks by women and eBooks women should know about! So we’ll follow-up with some of those.
Let’s get started with your favorite Book Club Books!
Eat, Pray, Love – by Elizabeth Gilbert | This was the highest recommended book on our Facebook page for your favorite Book Club books. (And here are movie review of ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘ and ‘One Word‘ – a blog about the book/movie.) It’s the author’s journey through divorce, depression and loneliness to finding herself and love by way of a three country adventure. (Personally, I fond both the book and movie wonderful, inspiring and somewhat spiritual. I’d high recommend it!) Amazon says this …
The Help – by Kathryn Stockett | This was high up on the list and, at our neighborhood girlfriend Book Club, was the only time we ALL read the book! Amazingly this was a first novel by the author. I thought this quote told the story best: “Set in the rural South of the 1960’s, THE HELP is a startling, resonant portrait of the intertwined lives of women on opposite sides of the racial divide. Stockett’s many gifts – a keen eye for character, a wicked sense of humor, the perfect timing of a natural born storyteller – shine as she evokes a time and place when black women were expected to help raise white babies, and yet could not use the same bathroom as their employers. Her characters, both white and black, are so fully fleshed they practically breathe – no stock villains or pious heroines here. I’m becoming an evangelist for The Help. Don’t miss this wise and astonishing debut.” – Joshilyn Jackson, Bestselling author of Gods in AlabamaAmazon shared this …
The Glass Castle – by Jeannette Walls | This was a great book to discuss at our Book Club (as were all of these, to be honest!). It’s an amazing and true story of growing up in a more-than-disfunctional family. Here are two quotes that summarize this fascinating book: “Jeannette Walls has carved a story with precision and grace out of one of the most chaotic, heartbreaking childhoods ever to be set down on the page. This deeply affecting memoir is a triumph in every possible way, and it does what all good books should: it affirms our faith in the human spirit.” – Dani Shapiro, author of Family History, and “The Glass Castle is the saga of the restless, indomitable Walls family, led by a grand eccentric and his tempestuous artist wife. Jeannette Walls has survived poverty, fires, and near starvation to triumph. She has written this amazing tale with honesty and love.” – Patricia Bosworth, author of Anything Your Little Heart Desires and Diane Arbus: A Biography, See Amazon for more
The Elegant Gathering of White Snows – By Kris Radish | When Girlfriendology was just starting out, I read this book and immediately ‘demanded’ that my Book Club read it to. LOVED IT! As Booklist shared: “When eight women in rural Wisconsin take off in the middle of the night for a journey of the heart, it touches women everywhere. The walking women are different ages and of diverse backgrounds, yet their friendship and unwavering mutual support have forged an immutable bond. They start their walk as support for Susan, who is facing an unwanted pregnancy, but all are walking for their own lost loves and lost dreams. As they walk, they talk about their lives, and the pain of the past is shed. The media picks up the news of their perambulation, and soon they become a national sensation that starts other women thinking about their lives, resulting in positive changes all over the country. The women are unaware of their influence, and their small community protects their privacy, so they can proceed without the intrusion of the outside world. A rallying cry for the empowerment of women, Radish’s novel is also a celebration of the strong bond that exists between female friends.” I contacted Kris (the author) about doing an interview with Girlfriendology and the rest is history. She’s now a girlfriend and I’m a huge fan of all her books!
Those are our top four books by women, books for women, books about women!
GIRLFRIENDOLOGY 101 shares:
• 5 Benefits of female friendship
• Answers the question: Aren’t guy friends the same?
• 7 Ways you can be a better friend
• 5 Steps to forgiving a friend and saving the friendship
• 5 Ways to go above and beyond being just a ‘good friend’
• 3 Great ways to make your friend feel as special as her friendship is to you
• 5 Girlfriend traditions you can start with your friends
• How girlfriends are like ‘shoes’ – and you need lots of different kinds of them!
• Talks about the one female friendship ‘thing’ not covered on Girlfriendology.com
The Journal of Business and Psychology states:
“Results indicate that employees’ perceptions of friendship opportunities in the workplace have direct effects on job involvement and job satisfaction, as well as indirect effects on organizational commitment and intention to turnover.”
Having friends at work is good for businesses (happy employees makes the workplace better, and increases job retention). Friends at work is good for employees too. We like working with people we, well, like!
GIRLFRIENDOLOGY 102 is designed for employers and female employees. If you would like to purchase it for your employees, please contact info (at) Girlfriendology.com for the group rate for the size of your organization (number of women). Also, HR professionals who place a group order will receive a guide to helping your employees foster healthy friendships in the workplace.
Be an eBook AUTHOR – Bloggers, business experts, moms, women with knowledge that would help other women … like possibly YOU! Have wisdom (aka: ‘girlfriend advice’) that can benefit other women? Want to build your brand, business and bank account?
Have a topic that you’re the go-to girlfriend and helpful subject matter expert on? Have a community already who would love to purchase your knowledge? Able to commit some time towards writing the eBook and promoting it? If so, please share your idea for a Girlfriendology Guides eBook. Explain why you’re the best person to write on this topic and why women need your information/insight. Become a Girlfriendology Guides author!
Be an eBook AFFILIATE – Bloggers, businesses and community managers can become an Affiliate by joining e-Junkie (link at bottom of page). Affiliates earn 40% of the sold price (up to $8/each). ALSO, if Affiliates would like, we can issue a special PROMO CODE to offer their communities a discount up to 40% (so affiliates would earn $4.75ish) and make it more attractive to your community. To request a promo code specific to your community, please send an email to info (at) girlfriendology.com and ask for an Affiliate Promo Code. We’ll customize it to your website name and send the information back to you.
Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less, by Stephanie Langford – editor/author of Keeper of the Home. Amazing 280-page primer for families who want to learn how to save an average of 20-30% on their food budget, while at the same time serving better quality and more nutritionally dense foods. Based on six years of hands on experience and hundreds of hours of research, Real Food on a Real Budget will teach you how to drastically lower your food budget OR significantly increase the quality of the foods that you buy (for the same amount of money). And LISTEN to Stephanie’s insights on healthy, affordable eating and hear her great girlfriend advice – like how we can have affordable and healthy meals for our families.
Living the Balanced Life – Find Your Balance – Steps to Define & Live by your Priorities, by Bernice Wood. If you feel like you run from one activity to the next, this book is for you. If you dread Monday mornings because you hate your job, this book is for you. If you feel like you do all the work around the house and get no respect and no help, this book is for you. If you are the one that everybody goes to when they need something, this book is for you. If you feel like you are crawling out of your skin and your head is going to explode, this book is for you. Includes: Losing our Balance and Finding It, Defining your priorities, Live Healthy, Be Productive, Live Joyfully, Be Renewed and Staying Balanced for Life.