Girlfriend book clubFinishing a good book is like leaving a good friend.
William Feather

“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. 

friendship book clubHere 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. Friendship Book Club book cover

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.

And so will you.