Monday, December 17, 2018

Book group extraordinaire

Eight years ago I co-started a book group with my close friend Kristin. As NICU graduate moms, professional leaders, and former co-presidents of a nonprofit we helped create that supported NICU parents, we used our skills and savvy to be selective about setting it up. Each of us chose three friends in the beginning. Of the original six, three of us remain--me, Kristin, and my dear friend Caley. And now we are seven.

Our second annual book exchange in 2011
In the past eight years we've seen a handful of members cycle in and out, most leaving because they were not ready to commit to a monthly read and meeting. In the last year we've grown from a low of four members to a high of seven. As our membership has evolved, so has the way we choose the books we read and how we meet.

We like to alternate between fiction and nonfiction, and we especially like books written by women or people of color and that address weighty subjects. One of our books this year tackled the plight of poverty in the United States--Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. The process of choosing books is highly democratic and inclusive.

The longest-running core part of book group
Book group overlaps in many other areas...not only have many of us worked together in previous jobs, but now several of us sing in Portland Rock Voices together and get to see each other weekly! And several women even see the same counselor, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations. We celebrate each person's birthday in some way. We bid a sad goodbye to one of our members when she had to move to Colorado for her husband's job, and then we welcomed her back again happily when she returned to Oregon! Even though we often laugh heartily, we have also shared deep pains and struggles as well, often brought to light through the books we read.

Entertainment provided by Niki's cats,
who love to sit on their perch and watch birds and mice on TV!
Last night was perhaps the most fun evening yet in book group. We enjoyed delicate squash/goat cheese quiche and salad; shared book group stories of olde; had a impromptu, hilarious dramatic reading of this month's book selection (The God of Small Things); played a fun game with imaginary gifts (thanks to my friend Adele, who invented said game); and laughed until we were about to pee our pants.
The dramatic reading

Every December we have a book exchange...and every year we widely read individuals always manage to choose a book that we have never read. It's an unbroken record!

When I chose my book out of the pile, I chose the one with a piece of folded paper on it. And this is what I found:

One of our newest members, Amy, is a gifted and witty writer, and she wrote a multiple-choice list for whomever chose her book. Of course, we had to read it all out loud. And a few of us got misty-eyed!
The gifted, thoughtful writer!
The book exchange had another dramatic reading, as Niki opened a book by a Scottish writer and ensued to read the description in a broad, loud Scottish accent!

I feel so grateful to be part of this circle of funny, bright, justice-seeking, inquisitive, loving, and compassionate women! Here are some more photos of the fun event (keeping the video top secret!!)!

My book came with a gorgeous ribbon I thought would make a nice headband!

Love you all!