Half the people you know probably belong to some sort of book club. Most love it, some tolerate it, some claim they’re far too busy to read a book every month, and others find fault with the quality of books selected. Still the number of book clubs in existence continues to grow, as does their popularity. Why?
Being a writer, I do of course belong to a book club – it’s called the Analyze This Group and shown above is a snapshot of the terrific gals who attended our most recent meeting. Although I can’t speak for the vast number of clubs across the country, I can tell you a bit about our Book Club. Our members almost never miss a meeting unless it is absolutely, positively, unavoidable…something the magnitude of a death in the family, or a flat-on-my-back-will-die-if-I-move sickness.

We all read the book – and – we discuss it at length.We don’t simply decide we liked or disliked it; we study the characters’ actions and alternatives, compare their experiences to ones we ourselves have undergone, laugh at their (and our own) haphazard missteps and sometimes even shed a tear because of their plight. At times  a meeting will start with a negative comment about the book, but even that inevitably leads to an exploration of the protagonist’s motives and ultimately a greater understanding of the story. Although I am a voracious reader myself, my book club buddies have introduced me to a number of new authors and wonderful stories that I most probably would never have read.

We have over twenty women in our group, and several others waiting to join, but members seldom leave, because Book Club is more than just a discussion group, it’s an afternoon of unbridled friendship. Of letting go of things you may not have talked about for years and knowing that not one of your friends will think less of you, or carry the tale elsewhere. It’s having a glass of wine, the type of food we don’t make for our husbands, and conversation that is thoughtful, intelligent and stimulating. Book Club is having twenty wonderful friends, any one of whom I could call for help, even in the dead of night. Sure, I’ve had times when I was so rushed I barely had time to shower before dashing off to the meeting, and we’ve read a few books that were rather forgettable …but I still would not have missed the experience of a single Book Club discussion. Some people claim their life is too busy for reading, not to mention a full afternoon for the discussion…I pity those poor people. The truth is, a life such as that  only seems full, but in things that matter it is most probably empty. Books enrich us with knowledge, entertainment and quite often memories of things we might otherwise have allowed to be forever entombed in our cranial data base. Books take us to places we may never visit, introduce us to people we will never know, and with the turn of page can transport us back and forth through time. Through books our world grows larger and our personal problems seem smaller. Not only does participation in a book club give us all of that, it also challenges our mind and opens the door to new friendships.

Analyze This meets the first Tuesday of every month and our meeting is held at the home of the person who selected the book. We chat, catch up on each other’s lives, have a glass of wine, delicious food and after this hour (or two) of socializing, we carry our wine glasses into the living room and settle in for an exhilarating discussion, which inevitably leads to a few tales of our own personal experiences and the unveiling of emotional memories. Yesterday we had a lengthy discussion about memories and after a fair bit of back and forth decided that memories are wonderful little snapshots of life…whereas memory is that vast data bank in the back of your brain where tragedies, lost loves, and broken dreams are filed away.

The Analyze This Book Club is indeed a reading group, but they are also a very intelligent discussion group, gourmet chefs (for that once a month) and part-time therapists (when necessary). But more importantly, they are  friends…and I shudder to think how empty any of our lives would be without our wonderful Book Club Buddies.

Oh, and did I mention there’s food?