My dream to start a book club ignited about 6 years ago when my husband and I stepped into a coffee shop in downtown Yakima: the smell of fresh roasted coffee, the inviting ambient atmosphere, the comfortable seating, the ample space to play chess or cribbage OR, as I imagined, ‘have a book discussion.’ As I sat there sipping a good brew my wheels began to spin.
The idea percolated in my head for a year or so, but I couldn’t get past my imagined ‘ideal’ setting. I finally decided to just step out and give it a shot. First I contacted my local Everett Public Library which was extremely handy since I work and live nearby. Anita manages the library’s Book group collection. She walked me through the process of borrowing and loaning out books. Each book set provides the borrower with discussion questions and a sign out sheet to keep track of who borrows which book. Generally a book club will meet every month or so, returning the finished book and picking up the next one.
Feeling a boost of confidence and equipped with a set of 10 books, I invited girlfriends to meet at my home. Five showed up and I made the 6th. A good number for starting out. That first auspicious evening I felt nervous; preparing light refreshments was the easy part selling my dream seemed a bit more daunting. My guests arrived. Introductions were made followed by discussion and explanations of how we would work our group. Filled with anticipation and excitement I passed out Lisa See’s, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan a book I’d selected for our first discussion.
We reconvened a month or so later to discuss the story of Lily and Snow Flower set in rural China during the 19th century. I thought this was an exquisite story and was certain everyone would agree, but unfortunately some members were quite disturbed by the traditional practice of foot binding. Sadly within the first year one, then two, then three and four gals dropped out and the book club died. I didn’t count it as a loss. I chalked it up to a learning experience and was able to see the value for what it was at the time. The spark of a dream continued to flicker and I made a few less energetic attempts but eventually shelved the idea.
Then a couple of years ago the thoughts of having a book club here at work surfaced; my manager showed genuine interest and enthusiasm. This new book club idea was flavored with the concept of making food the central theme for discussion. I researched food themed book clubs but decided I wasn’t brave enough to try a strangers cooking. Meantime Alan, our branch manager, had gained a vision for the south Everett library to have a book club and was not quick to give it up.
Long story short, with support, encouragement, and the help of co-workers the Southside Book Club launched a year ago. The book club has been dubbed: ‘Terrific books, substantial discussions, and light refreshments!’ Over the last year the library has weathered a year with cut backs and schedule changes, but the Southside Book Club survived! The Southside Book Club is open to the public. Books are made available at the Evergreen Branch reference desk a month in advance or you can check out any available copies from the library collection. Last week we enjoyed a lively discussion of Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife. The remaining books and discussions for 2015 are: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand August 25th, The Cove on October 13th, and on December 8th The Rosie Project.
Upon reflection I had to let go of my cozy coffee shop with mood lighting ideal and realize the opportunity and potential staring me right in the face. This past year has been exciting: meeting new people, listening and sharing thoughts and ideas and making new friends. A dream come true! In preparing for our last discussion I discovered this great quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.