With added book reviews
I’ve been in a book club for a couple years now, and I have to say, the benefits have surprised me. Not only is it a social engagement that we all so desperately crave, but we get to have a girls night in. It’s a feeling of sisterhood that I’ve never felt since I was a girl scout. We get to connect. We get to satisfy Maslow’s number two hierarchy of needs; to belong.
Most of the ladies in this group are avid readers, and plow through 3 or 4 books a month, while I have to discipline myself to get through the one that has been assigned. I’m actually still working full time, while the majority of my book club ladies are retired. I read at night so I’m picky about what I plant in my brain before I go to sleep. These ladies are history buffs,and love the dark stories of the Holocaust or the Depression. I personally prefer modern day stories of upbeat offbeat people who travel or have made unique and positive contributions to the world.
We differ in our backgrounds; where we grew up, our political and religious views etc and yet we all come together and share fellowship and insights without judgment or ostracization. We’ve also admitted that by letting each member choose a book of the month, we are forced to step out of our usual favorite author or genre and explore new titles whereby we wouldn’t have otherwise done so.
According to Leisurecare.com, other benefits include gaining new perspectives, making new friends, getting outside of our comfort zone, learning new things and improving our social and communication skills.
Here are just a few great examples of books we’ve read that I would recommend. In The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, I was fascinated to learn about a small group of people called Bluets that lived in the remote hills of Kentucky during the 1930’s. These were African American people afflicted with blue tinted skin and chocolate brown colored blood due to a rare genetic disorder. Not only did I learn about the harsh living conditions of that era, but also of this unique condition that further alienated these poor folks from society.
Educated is a must read to gain insight of life in isolated regions of Idaho in Morman families and how their strict beliefs to reject modern government sanctions, education, and medicines formed the boundaries of their belief system. Curing themselves with tinctures and home remedies made for some interesting characters and philosophies that forever changed the course of their lives. The relationships among the family members were unlike any I’d ever known.
The Promise was a book about the great storm in Galveston that wiped out many homes, livestock and people that led to advancements in meteorology to predict such events from causing such mass devastation again.
I also got to learn for the first time about The Orphan Train and how and why so many children from East coast orphanages were sent out west to work on western farms to basically work as child slaves. They were put on trains simply because their parents either died or couldn’t keep them during this era from 1854 to 1929. Needless to say, as a Canadian born transplant, I learned a lot about the hardships and history of America through books like this. My cultural awareness has improved greatly.
I learned some insightful things behind American politics by reading Becoming, by Michelle Obama. I was impressed and inspired.
Another one of my favorite non fiction books is called The Day the World Came to Town. It’s about how all the overseas jumbo jets were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada in an unprecedented situation where all air traffic was grounded on the 911 attacks in 2001. It’s one of those great stories that shines on the positive heroes that brought us together, and compassion trumped evil. I’m proud, but not surprised that my Canadian homefolk had the open door mentally to let scared and stranded strangers into their homes without hesitation. While this country was in distress, the residents of Gander offered their hospitality; not expecting anything in return. I especially loved the part where they used an ice hockey rink as a giant refrigerator to store all the meals the local folks donated.
Last but not least, my final reason for encouraging you to get out and join a book club is that you get to share your opinions and life experiences. Aren’t we all, just by living our lives, writing our own books? Don’t we all just want to share our life stories?