Last year, after moving to Thomasville, I said goodbye to my book club of six years.
Six years ago, I was newly married and trying to find my grown-up place in my hometown. We lived in a 650-square-foot apartment, and Jordan went to law school while my tiny journalism major salary bought our groceries and paid our bills. I needed friends. I'm an introvert, but I crave meaningful relationships, and with Jordan in law school every day and night, I needed an outlet.
A girl I knew through work started asking me out to lunch. (Friend-making really is a lot like dating, when you think about it.) She was smart and outgoing and about to marry her best friend, and as it turns out, we had a lot in common. We hosted a dinner party together, and before I knew it, I was making new year's resolutions and asking her if she thought a book club might be fun.
In what I used to think was a rare act of bravery, I hosted the first meeting of book club at our tiny apartment in January of 2009. Our transient Tallahassee town meant a lot of members would come and go in a span of six years, but we met every month, regardless of numbers. We read fiction and nonfiction, classics and New York Times bestsellers. Some of our members got married, had babies. We saw each other through a lot of heartbreak, and a lot of joy. I remember one particular meeting, I came home, and I told Jordan: Book club is what church should look like. I still believe that.
A lot happens in six years of marriage, so my book club friends saw me through a lot of life struggles and changes. Book club, I think, taught me to come out of myself, to try new things, to be brave. By launching that very first meeting back in 2009, I grew up and into myself. I've always been confident, more bold, I think, than my outward facade suggests. Book club brought that out, in part because it was successful. It was my new year's resolution that stuck. Book club showed me what goal setting makes possible, and now? Well, now I own the bookstore I used to love.
Book club gave me the confidence to step out of my shell and to try new things. Book club taught me to take risks, because the risk of starting a book club with strangers? It paid off.
Now, it's January 2015, and I'm tempted to try my hand at book club again. It's one of the reasons we're hosting a Book Club Fair at The Bookshelf this week. I want customers to see what book clubs our fair city offers; I want readers to mingle with other readers and discover how special it can be to sit and converse with one another about the books they love.
Maybe you're like me, and you're looking for ways to find yourself in a new town. Maybe you've lived in Thomasville forever, but you haven't found a book club that sticks. Maybe you're lucky, and you've been a member of the same book club for years, but you're desperate for book recommendations or searching for new members.
Whatever your story, we hope you'll join us this Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. for our first-ever Book Club Fair. We'll be showcasing area clubs and launching our own: Rebekah's kicking off a Forever Young Adult book club in February, and she's looking for involvement. I've got some titles I think your book club might want to tackle this year, and Gin Creek Winery will be bringing by some wine and cheese to round out the evening.
Starting a book club was one of the best things I've done, and my fingers are crossed the magic might happen again.
See you Thursday?