6.16.2016

why it's hard to join a book club and make friends as an adult



This whole shebang started at the library, as most sagas do.

I waltzed into the air-conditioned sanctuary, out of the 200% humidity through which I had just hauled my child on my hip from across the street because I accidentally came during an event again and there were no parking spots available. I didn't have any lofty plans; I just wanted to drop a few books in the return slot, pick up the ones I'd put on hold, and let my child destroy the board book section so I could sit for a second and maybe stop sweating. Instead, I was somehow herded into a line where I wound up signing Gracie up for a summer reading program. In a space of 2 minutes, I had gone from wondering what to eat for lunch to promising to read to her for 6 hours this summer. Or 6 hours a week? Or a month? I really don't know; with all the reading we do at home we could knock that out in a day. All I know is that she has her own library card, so I can finally start taking her to story time.

It got me thinking that libraries should hold adult reading programs too. Or book clubs. Just something, because kids aren't the only ones who need encouragement to read/someone to get excited over books with. After a few texts with a friend of mine, lamenting about the fact that we live too far apart to start a book club together, I got a wild hair. During nap time I started googling book clubs, just to see if anything came up. I've wanted to be in a book club forever. Some people dream of traveling the world before they die; I dream of being in a book club. But a good one, you know? Where you're all friends and love each other and books and eat food and drink drinks and just have the best time. I probably have a romanticized notion of this, don't I? I don't have a lot of future plans, but finding or starting a good book club is one of them. I found a few options and started perusing, despite my better judgment. Organized meet-ups are not my thing. I would much rather sit one-on-one or honestly just stay home than be in a group of people, but in this stage of life I have to fight for a social life. Plus, I just have bad luck with this sort of thing.

Let's take my Women's Bible Study for example.

My church started one last fall. The timing was right and I was in the market for new friends. I went to a handful of meetings and all was well. Then we had several weeks of bad weather, we breaked for the holidays, yada yada yada, I fell out of the habit. Toward the end of winter, my lack of attendance was gnawing at me. Every Wednesday I'd feel a twinge of guilt for not going, but I also had a bucket of excuses. One morning I finally said enough was enough. I got us up, got ready, and was just about to walk out the door when a friend told me it was cancelled. All dressed up and nowhere to go. The next week I woke up with mastitis. The week after, it was cancelled. The next two weeks I was sick and then Gracie was sick. Then it was cancelled again. Finally, I got us ready and out the door and actually in the car driving. Victory! Then, of course, there was a car accident. I was stuck at the same intersection for 45 minutes and I called James in tears, feeling like it wasn't meant to be. A few minutes after finally arriving, the powers that be spontaneously decided to make it the last meeting before the fall instead of meeting through the summer. Under the guise of helping Gracie, I had to excuse myself for a minute to cry a few tears of frustration. 

But back to the book clubs.

I found a Happy Hour Book Club. I read the description and it seemed alright, until in big bold letters it warned "THIS IS NOT A YOUNG MOMS GROUP. IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHILD RELATED DISCUSSION, THIS IS NOT YOUR GROUP." I mean, I wasn't expecting to go to book club and talk about my kid, but I wasn't so sure they would welcome a SAHM. As I always say: When in doubt, don't go out.

I scrolled some more and found a classics book club. I've been reading more and more classics lately and actually enjoying some of them. I looked at the list of previous books they've read, and every single one was a Shakespearean play. I was instantly smacked with flashbacks of sobbing in my Shakespeare professor's office the night before the final. I may have been sitting on my couch, but I still ran screaming from this club.

I found a bookclub in my area of town. It looked promising. I started to click the button to join when I was assaulted with what appeared to be the internet version of a blood oath. Before joining, I had to answer questions like: 
"Do you promise to attend x amount of meetings annually?" 
"Do you promise to suggest books?"
"Do you promise to attend a meeting within the next 4 months?"
"Do you promise not to no-show more than 3 times annually?"
"Do you promise to suggest locations?"
"Do you promise to give me your social security number?" (<---kidding, but I wouldn't be surprised)

I do not know these people and do not feel comfortable with this level of commitment, as easy as these promises may be to fulfill. I'm looking for a casual fling, not a courtship. 

Just for giggles, I started to research moms groups. I've been wanting to join a local MOPS group, but for the last year I decided I would wait until we move so I could find one close to home. Well, that didn't happen, and I'm tired of putting my life on hold for it. So I decided I would join one. Until I remembered it's June. Hopefully this streak of bravery will last until the fall. 

I looked up other moms groups just for fun. I know a lot of people have good experiences with them, and I'm willing to try just about anything once. If nothing else, it will give me something to write about, right? I found one for moms in my area and clicked on the description. There's a somewhat appalling annual fee, and....wait for it....AUDITIONS. I mean, they don't call it auditions, but you have to meet with several members to see if you "mesh well with the group." They also plan "multiple events a day" and are "very active" and demand the same from all members. Absolutely nothing about this was reassuring. I'm not going on audition so I can find another mom to sit with at the park.

For now, I think I'll just stick with the Gracie's reading program at the library. If I can figure out what it is.
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19 comments:

  1. You kind of sound like me, except you put a lot more effort into finding people.

    I would LOVE to have a local book club. Or even a Bible study. Or a dog-moms club. A few ladies my age kind of started something last summer where we'd meet at parks and let our dogs run together, but everyone was a young mom and most of them didn't work and, while they were great people, I was at a different life stage than they were. They could meet during the day and they had kid-priorities and I wasn't really "in" on the conversations.
    If I lived closer to C-bus we could start a book club. Haha!

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  2. HOLY CRAP. I haven't even looked into any groups, but I gotta say this is not encouraging me to do so. I went to a bible study for the first half of Quinn's school year, but I was the youngest there and it just didn't seem like anybody wanted to make new friends. They were all nice, at least. Then I tried to make friends with some of her classmates moms, but they're all still Quinn's friends' parents to me. We don't hang out sans kiddos.
    I do know that our library has a bunch of different book clubs, but timing with Quinn doesn't always work out, especially during the summer. Meh, we'll see.

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  3. I have the exact same romanticized vision of book clubs, and I YEARN for everything that I imagine them to be. Delicious appetizers and desserts, wine, chocolate, good books, adult conversation. Yes.

    But crap, that mom group is INSANE! They really do multiple activities a day and expect everyone to keep up with them??? No thanks. I would stick to the library too. Maybe you'll find other introverted moms who love books at storytime, and you guys can start a casual fling book club.

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  4. Who knew people took their book clubs & mom groups so seriously! I mean we had to meet with someone at our church who helps small groups get started so that she could get us in a group that we should mesh with, but it was clearly stated that if this group wasn't the right fit after giving it a try for at least 3 get togethers then we can try with another one. Not everyone is going to fit even if at first it seems like it.

    The pretentiousness of the "don't talk about your kids here group" puts my hair on end! I also have never understood how a mother with small children could be overly active in anything, like the one mom's group with multiple events & "audition" process. Kids are unpredictable & get sick all the time! Committing to twice a month small group feels a bit much for us right now.

    I hope you can find a MOPS group in the fall. I wish we lived closer then we could find one together!

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  5. Girl!!! You need to start one and make it your own thing. You made a new name for blogging. You can make a new name for book clubs. You could even make it online! Discuss the books in forums. Skype? Send delicious goodies to each other that are special to each person's area? It's like all of the socialization without strict commitment :)
    Also, I would like to sign up for your book club :)

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    1. I would also like to read more classics- I just need something/someone to keep me accountable! Lol

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    2. YES. Let's start our classics book club and discuss over lunch or dinner. That will be better than any book club could ever be.

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  6. Okay, I REALLY feel like you need to start your own reading club. Honestly! If I lived closer I'd totally join - as long as you let me bring donuts every week. I cannot believe some of the restrictions/rules/promises of commitment these places are asking of everyone! Holy cow! Blood oath is right!! ;) I truly think you'd be an amazing book club leader - and you would be totally different! Known for "spontenaity and being light hearted". Telling "members" it okay when things come up, that you'll all be there for them when they return. Low key is the way to be!!

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  7. "When in doubt, don't go out." That's my new motto. There's a book called Women Are Scary about making friends as an adult, but specifically as a mom. She compares it to dating and reaching different bases with your new friends. I haven't read it yet but maybe I should. I'm so bad at branching out in the friend world.

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  8. Oh my gosh. I know you live in a big city, so this is appalling. I live in a small town, am a part of a babywearing group, a moms group called the motherhood collective, two bible studies (one stopped for summer, one still going, I've missed the last 4 times...too) and a book club. and they are all fun and no commitment O_o

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  9. If you lived by me you'd be so welcome at my book club! We meet once a month, you're not required to read the selection to participate, and mom talk is welcome (although not everyone is a mom).
    By the way, some mops groups do charge dues as part of being part of mops international. It shouldn't be crazy expensive, and you shouldn't have to sign your life away to participate. :)

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  10. If you lived by me you'd be so welcome at my book club! We meet once a month, you're not required to read the selection to participate, and mom talk is welcome (although not everyone is a mom).
    By the way, some mops groups do charge dues as part of being part of mops international. It shouldn't be crazy expensive, and you shouldn't have to sign your life away to participate. :)

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  11. I run a bit of a book club here for our military spouses, but dang, it's hard. Not because reading is hard (though apparently it is for most people who say they will come but then don't read the book). It's like I can't make anyone happy. I tried to have it on a weeknight, and that was too hard. I switch to weekends, and then I'm intruding on family time. We choose terrible books (I guess) because I have about 30 people voting for them, then 7 people read it, and then 3 people show up! I hold it every 6 weeks and you'd think it's a surprise every time it happens. Yeesh.

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  12. I am stressed for you just reading this! Auditions?? Promising to show up to x amount of meetings? Are you trying to get over a drug habit, or have a nice conversation about the last book you read? Geesh.

    Making friends as an adult is difficult. That's why I'm very grateful the Internet exists!

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    1. YES. What would we do without the internet?

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  13. I go to a weekly mom group at the T and it, aside from church, the grocery store, and small group, is the only reason Parker and I leave the house. I love it so so much.

    I can't imagine having to audition for a mom group. Is it like joining a sorority? Do you have to wear matching sweaters? Is there hazing? (I know nothing about sororities outside of television)

    You should start your own book club. Criteria to join is that you're this socially awkward and must tell an embarrassing story about yourself or child to join. You must also bring cookies because love is not free.

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  14. This whole entire blog post just stressed me out. Maybe it's the homeschooler in me but I don't respond very well to rules and regulations...especially seemingly arbitrary and inhumane ones. (i.e. I was thinking about going to grad school here, went to visit, learned that they require all international students to take the TOEFL test to enter...even if you're American, a native English speaker, an English teacher, a published author, a TOEFL teacher, etc, they don't care, you are required to submit TOEFL scores....and I walked out, never to return. See? I don't handle regulations well).

    And it makes me grateful that I pretty much never join groups. Once, Angel and I visited the young adults' Bible study at our church, and I sat next to Angel, and the pastor came and told me thanks for visiting, but I needed to move, because they didn't allow spouses to sit next to each other at Bible study, because some of the people who attended the meeting were single and they didn't want to make anyone feel alone or jealous, so they didn't allow married couples to sit together. ??????

    And....I never went back. I seem to be sensing a pattern. Maybe I need to be a little more okay with rules. Bible studies can be awesome though--all my best college buddies I met at my college Bible study, including Angel. But...there weren't a lot of rules at that Bible study...possible connected to the fact that Angel led it until he graduated and then I led it till I graduated. Imagine how many rules either Angel or I would impose: 0

    Here, my main social activity is leading the youth group, and I think that's about enough social commitment for me. Maybe I'll just have to accept that most of my friends are under 18. Or...my sisters. When you have 5 sisters, it somewhat limits the need to be social with other people.

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  15. wow... that sounds intense! but you just inspired me to see if I can find a local book club...wish me luck! One of my best (only) friends works at the library so maybe she could set something up!

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  16. So....You're invited to my GoodReads book club! We read one book a month which we USUALLY work together to choose. It's super flexible: You can read at your own pace and comment whenever you have time. If you're not into the book or you're too busy that month, you can skip and wait until your life slows down or we pick a book that looks good to YOU.

    It's not a real life bookclub with fun get togethers, themed dinners, etc....but, it's the next best thing and there is ZERO guilt involved. I'd LOVE to have you join us! https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/150436-read-it

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