More Fun than Dental Surgery? – Book Clubs I have Known




Quick Question:

Would you prefer to have a Root Canal or belong to a Book Club?

My “fellow” blogger, Suzanne Stavert, wrote a lovely post recently about her book club.

She included jealousy-inducing photos of a friendly-looking group of women, drinks in hand, sitting on the deck of a boat discussing their chosen book. (photos here:

But Suzanne purposefully chose not to use the words “book club” in the post’s title.

So as not to scare off any would-be readers.

As she put it – “Believe it or not, there are people who would rather get a root canal than be a member of a book club.”

I don’t get this. Maybe because as a child I was a happy bookworm. Reading at all meals (when permitted), going to a chair in the corner to read while my parents visited friends, reading by flashlight while I was supposed to be sleeping. Reading whatever I could get my hands on. Reading the back of a kleenex box in desperation on a family trip one night when I had finished a book and did not have another to start. My worst nightmare.

Actually my worst nightmare is dental surgery.

I once bit my dentist’s hand.

But I digress.

I am a serial creator of book clubs.

And unafraid (until I see what feedback I receive, that is) to use the words “book club” in the title of this post.

Book clubs are more fun than dental surgery. At least the ones I have known. All four of them.

Book Club #1 started when my friend Liz and I were in our 30’s. All couples of same age kids.  My husband reluctantly joined in. He also loves to read but doesn’t like being told what to read.  While driving to book club, I was to provide him with a synopsis of the first and last chapters of the book.

After a glass or two of wine, he was then able to discuss, with a great deal of authority, books he had never read.

Impressive to watch. But his behavior inspired the other husbands to do the same non-reading. Book Club #1 disbanded.

Book Club #2 was a group I created in my 40’s. I asked seven other moms who all had 9th grade daughters in the same school as mine to join. After a few meetings it was obvious that some of us (look in the mirror here) were more serious readers than others.  While I like to chat as much as anyone (just ask my husband), a year of meetings that consisted of 15 minutes of book talk and 1 and 3/4 hours of fun talk convinced us to change our status from book club to social hour.

So, back to my devoted reader friend Liz, we decided to launch Book Club #3. Because women tend to forget painful things that produce pleasure (childbirth, for example), once again a couples book club was born.  And once again it was a mistake. The men were more interested in things other than reading.  One night we spent an entire meeting discussing possible names – not of books to read, but for the book club.

What kind of book club has its own name?

Our husbands told us we needed a clever name so that our popular local independent book store could reserve a book club shelf just for us.  Shortly after the male members of Book Club #3 decided upon the name “The Scorpions”, a name that none of the female members voted for, Book Club #3 fell apart.

My devoted reader friend, Liz and I were determined to get it right with Book Club #4.

Women only! And only women who truly liked to read. And who would actually read the chosen book. And would talk about it without getting easily sidetracked into discussions (at least during hour one) about our health, our jobs or our adult kids.

Putting together Book Club #4 of eight women in our late 50’s was the easy part. Much harder has been deciding on what kinds of books to read.

Book Club #4 is a group of women that defines (in a good way) the meaning of the word “bossy”.

Each of us has our own strong preferences.

  • Pam likes serious stories filled with metaphors and philosophy.
  • I love a good mystery.
  • Liz favors thoughtful female fiction.
  • Karen wants to read the classics she avoided in college.
  • Deborah insists that all of the books we read should fall under the category of “Great Literature.”

Who are we to say no to “Great Literature”?

Although I soon learned that “Great Literature” mostly contains books about women who suffer.

So Book Club #4 specializes in reading books about Women who Suffer.

Perhaps this is why some people, as my fellow blogger, Suzanne said, would rather have a root canal than belong to a book club?

I don’t know, for us, Book Club #4, six years on, works.

We read a book about women who suffer, get together in someone’s living room in or near Washington, DC,  have a glass – or two – of wine,  talk about why and how the women suffered and then go home to our lives feeling good that we don’t suffer quite as much as our literary heroines.

Long live Book Club #4 – far better than root canal any day.

(if your preference is for dental surgery,  I’d love to know why.)


Filed under Books, Midlife, Women

8 responses to “More Fun than Dental Surgery? – Book Clubs I have Known

  1. Alice Agatston

    Dear Nancy,

    You do have the best, most fun, warp speed conversation, respectful with listening book club, which I was privileged to experience in action. I have a “share audiobook” a la carte exchange of book thoughts. I still think about your dazzling, dynamic #4, now that I know their name. Thank you for sending.

    And, my mother dyed her eyebrows and eyelashes, both worked. I dye my hair and it makes me feel better. I have child activated gray.

    Love, Alice


  2. Alice Agatston

    I like the images that accompany your essays.


  3. suzannestavert

    Nancy you are the quintessential book lover! I too love to read, but not everyone does, hence the root canal comment. I loved your post and enjoyed reading about your book club “adventure”. You persevered! The part about the husbands is so true!! Part of the issue of the uncooperative men, is that most men don’t like to be told what to do! Enjoy your book club gals!


  4. Catherine Stirling

    Love this! I need 20 minutes to tell you MY book club story when we get together. Maybe next week? Cath

    Sent from my iPhone



  5. I’ve never been in a book club, but I am a happy bookworm!


  6. Nancy, since you asked, here’s my response. Like your hubby, I don’t like being told what to read. But more than that (lame) reason, there’s really just one compelling reason why I would prefer dental surgery over any book club. I’m an introvert and getting into a group or attending regular social meetings like that stresses me out. If I were with a group of established friends though, then that would be different. However, knowing us, it will turn into a social club more than a book club, so, it just won’t work, hehehe…… Enjoy your book club!


  7. elainelk

    I was never really interested in book clubs partly because of one of your experiences–discussions about everything under the sun except the book. Now I belong to a wonderful one at our church. It includes both men and women, and these men are very much interested in reading–the moderator of the group is a former professor who knows just about everything but is very careful to be sure that all members get a chance to contribute. We read mostly classics, many from the first part of the 20th century but covering a range from Dickens to Dos Passos to Doctorow to Hilary Mantel. My husband enjoys the group as much as I do. It’s almost like my English-major days in college.


    • Thanks, Elaine. The moderator does make a difference. I think my book club could use one at times! Sounds like you are reading some good books. We also read Hilary Mantel, “Wolf Hall” and I so wanted to love it but didn’t.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s