My Book Club

Between The Covers

by Kathy Coogan

We named our book club Between the Covers. The double entendre seems perfect for us, a mixed bag of classy, busy, bright sometimes bawdy women. Some of us dread turning forty; some remember forty (and fifty and sixty) fondly. There is not a dull woman in the group. Nor a shy one.

We are always faithful to the book discussion, but occasionally have trouble getting started. Some of us see one another only once a month at Book Club and we need to fill in the gaps about jobs, kids and husbands before we begin the bookish conversation.

Health is a major, recent topic. As if we were jinxed, we’ve had a rash of members with serious challenges: breast cancer, rare heart problems, major surgeries. Between the Covers has gained a new darker definition replete with images of hovering doctors and nurses, worried spouses. We cheer and console these Tough Cookies who are living stories as yet unwritten.

The hostess has selected the book, her initial task. But of equal importance, she prepares (or purchases - we don’t care which) the snacks and drinks which we dip and sip as we talk. As the discussion develops, some read from detailed notes, others pipe up spontaneously to argue or elaborate, some hold back and then amaze us with brilliance. Our personalities and style are revealed as we debate the author’s skill and the story’s hold on us.

Recently we read Room by Emma Donaghue. Discussion was intense but came to a standstill when someone wondered why we never heard “Ma’s” given name. “It’s Sharon,” one of the pipers proclaimed. “Her mother says her daughter’s name just once in the second half.” We spend minutes thumbing through pages for the single reference. Finally a Kindle delivers the Eureka moment, its search-ability zeroing in on the single usage of the name, Sharon. The observant reader beams.

Reading is an act of reverence, devotion. You willingly devote precious time to stories told by a distant author, another soul alone in a room. Book Club permits you to share the exhilaration you feel when a story is told well, when a character is born and grows, when a solution is found, a hero exonerated and a villain condemned. Book Club makes reading a community event, whether it be one of celebration, homage or group therapy.

Strangers have become friends through Book Club. Accountants, flight attendants, teachers, audiologists, HR managers, sales reps, homemakers. It doesn’t matter what we do. We form alliances of the mind, just by reading the same book. Conclusions reached may vary but if you’ve read the same book you have shared an experience. If life has thrown a curve ball at your clock and calendar depriving you of reading time, and you don’t fear having the ending revealed, we invite you to come anyway. The food alone is worth it.

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