Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Slice of Heaven

It’s book group night – my favorite night of the month. It’s the one night I feel like I can take off all the “hats” I wear – mother, wife, friend, PTA volunteer, chauffer, maid – and just be ME. I can talk grown-up talk with like minded women (who range in ages from twentysomething to seventysomething) about one of our passions – reading books. We’ve been meeting for 6 years – and I didn’t think our group would last 6 months.

I’d like to think I was a book groupie long before Madame Oprah made it vogue to belong to a book group with her official Oprah stamped books. I moved to Washington DC in 1993 (Oprah’s club started in 1996, I think?) to start my first “real” job out of college. Not soon thereafter, my friends from church invited me to their book group. Keep in mind, I’d never read for pleasure. College reading was a necessity and I don’t remember much about High School lit classes, nor did I read any of the childhood classics I was supposed to. So, the thought of picking up a book for enjoyment was totally foreign to me. The book selection that night was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Between the book and discussion, my world was changed forever. I discovered that, first, I love food writing! Oh, the glories of reading about the delicacies in her book made me weep. Plus, I had no idea how much fun it would be to sit around talking “book talk.” And the refreshments after were, quite literally, icing on the cake.

After nearly 5 years of living in DC, my future husband swept me off my feet and moved me to NYC, where my monthly book group ceased. We had no friends, we commuted 3 hours a day, and worked 12 hour days. It was like living in a vast literary waste land. NYC was not meant for us, so after two years of managing the Big Apple, we were happily pregnant and off to the South. My first goal (after trying to figure out how to deal with a sleepless newborn), was to start a book group. I knew it would be essential to my survival as a new mom and individual. When my daughter turned one, I took the plunge. I sent out postcards to my friends at church, and the following month I had 10 ladies sitting in my very cozy, living room. We picked the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the rest is history.

Our numbers have grown and shrunk over the years, but every third Thursday I still get giddy over book group night. Some women scrapbook, paint, take Zumba classes, spend time baking -- I am talent-less in all of the above. But I can read and I can talk – so book group is a perfect fit for me to be ME.