I was privileged to participate in a program called Leadership Montgomery six years ago. While I learned many lessons in that leadership development program and made many contacts, by far the most meaningful thing to come out of it was my book club, with five other women from my graduating class.
Now, I’ve never before this wanted to be in a book club. I liked to read what I felt like reading, when I felt like reading it. But this group changed my mind.
We like to think we’re one of the more eclectic book clubs around, reading not just bestsellers and book club favorites but a selection of sometimes not so well known fiction and non-fiction that invokes our curiosity and pleases and challenges us. We follow a hybrid of book club styles, meaning that there is dinner and lots of wine but we also thoroughly discuss the books.
Through the more than 30 books we’ve read together thus far we’ve endured family drama with some twisted, some endearing characters; we’ve experienced life as immigrants from Africa and China; we’ve lived as children in the slums of India. We’ve been betrayed by those we love; we’ve been up close and personal with the Loch Ness monster; we’ve been an abused wife with a dark heart; we’ve had a harrowing escape from North Korea.
We’ve grown up poor in Appalachia; we’ve been botanical explorers; we’ve been taxi drivers and maids; we’ve been spies in Iran. We’ve had magical adventures in the Amazon and Portugal; we’ve said yes to everything that scared us; we’ve journeyed across the country to find adoptive parents. We’ve nearly been killed pushing for girls’ education in Afghanistan; we’ve been Supreme Court justices, abolitionists, scientific miracles, and Bollywood brides.
Sometimes book club members host at their homes, sometimes at restaurants (we don’t judge). At our gatherings we’ve eaten Trinidadian cuisine, Persian cuisine, vegetarian Chinese and more. We always have dessert, unapologetically.
Through the friendships we’ve developed as members of the book club we’ve loved children and grandchildren; we’ve mourned mothers’ deaths; we’ve shared vicariously travels around the world; we've bemoaned political disasters. We’ve been caregivers; we’ve had spouses gravely ill; we’ve retired, both permanently and temporarily; we’ve taken on new challenges; we’ve struggled with jobs. We’ve painted, published, mediated, advocated for the environment, run companies, served our communities, loved our families, and lived rich and full lives.
We won’t let anything get in the way of attending our book club meetings, and if something comes up that will, we change the date so everyone can be there. The benefits are bifold—what we get from the books and what we get from each other.