Women talking at a book clubI never thought this day would come, but it looks like I might finally be joining a book club. Specifically, the Elliott Bay Book Company’s book club, which is open to the public. Here’s what I like about their group:

  • Although you’re supposed to RSVP, it’s an opt-in type of gathering — your attendance is not mandatory at each one, so if you don’t like the book of the month, you can just skip it. No pressure to read someone else’s crappy choice!
  • They seem to choose mostly literary fiction and classics, which is probably a good motivator for me to put down the trashy historical bodice-rippers now and then.
  • The featured book is on sale for 20% off during the month preceding the meeting, so you can support a local business and get a discount for doing so. (Of course, I’ll be borrowing mine from the library. Shh!)
  • It just so happens they have a very nice cafe (where I’m assuming the book group will meet), so naturally I’ll have to order some truffled deviled eggs or a fancy coffee beverage to thank them for hosting us. Have to.

I don’t really know what to expect, because I’ve never been to a book club. This always surprises people, but I frequently get passed over for invitations because book club organizers feel intimidated that I’m a reviewer, like that means my opinion counts more or something. It doesn’t! (Or maybe they have a horrible vision of me balancing my spectacles on my nose and lecturing the whole group for a solid hour.) I’m just there to drink wine and eat too much cheese and gossip about whoever didn’t show up, like everyone else.

Anyway, the May selection is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which I’ve always been a little curious about and have never read, so it seemed like good timing. Thanks to the glory of public-domain literature, I downloaded a free copy to my Kindle and have been plowing through it all this week. Ironically, I probably won’t have much to say at this meeting: I’m about a third of the way through, and while I’m following the action, I feel like there’s a lot of context and satirical undertones that I’m missing, so I’m hoping the book group will fill in the gaps.

Generally, I think of reading as a solitary activity, but there’s definitely something to be gained from discussing a book with others, especially if they took away something else from it or had a drastically different opinion about it. I kind of miss the group experience of reading a text and figuring it out with a group of classmates, so maybe this will be along those lines. Fingers crossed that somebody brings spinach artichoke dip!

Stephanie Perry
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