by Andrea Goeglein
What is a book club, really? Is it only about reading books? Is it only about sharing opinions about a given book? Is it only a way to get out of the house once a month? What is a book club, really?
This week I had an opportunity to present my latest book, Don’t Die Waiting to Be Brave to a long established book club on the East Coast. As I watched the members trickle in, greeting me and their fellow members, I went into observer mode. I watched as they hugged, checking in on the well-being of various family members, and offering each other immediate support for whatever life news was being shared. Yes, they had come to talk about a book, sure it was nice that an author was there, but what seems to keep them coming back is the ‘talk’ they have about their lives. The book is context. The gathering is the content.
Positive Psychology research has long supported the positive impact of social bonding and support. One of the founders of the field, the late Chris Peterson, taught everyone he touched, “people matter.” As an observer of a book club, I developed an appreciation for the far reaching emotional benefits such a gathering can offer. Of course, me being me, I wondered about the origin of book clubs. The history is varied and conflicting but this is part of what I found:
“Beginning in the mid-18th century in England, motivated women of means and leisure began hosting salons for each other at home, inviting (male) luminaries of the day over to serve as keynote guests. These salon-goers came to be called “bluestockings,” supposedly after one popular guest’s signature garment; by 1863, across the pond, The New American Cyclopaedia was using the term as a catchall descriptor for “pedantic or ridiculously literary ladies.” The first modern-style reading groups emerged out of this “ridiculously” ambitious culture of self-education, taking form as refuges for women who wanted to get ahead and cultivate their minds outside an educational system to which they had no proper access.”(1)
I will admit I am a late-comer to book club members, yet I find the definition, my observation and my personal experience align. I have yet to see any ‘bluestockings’ but I have been surrounded by smart, driven, supportive women who use books as the context to share the experiences their lives contain.
Dr. Success Invitation: If you have a book club and would like me to facilitate a conversation about Don’t Die Waiting to Be Brave, please write me at DrSuccess@ServingSuccess.com.
Wishing you a grateful holiday weekend, Andrea