I’d heard about a book club that some people I knew were doing, and I finally got the nerve to ask to join in. I was nervous at the prospect of going to a book club. A large part of that nervousness was due to where I went to college. At St. John’s College, every class was pretty much a competitive book club. That means that I know how to argue a book’s meaning, but the methods are pretty combative. Not something I would want to bring to a friendly group of women with whom I hope to become or remain friends.

So I knew that I would have to restrain some of my instincts to talk when at the book club, but that’s something that I have to do in most of my life. It has taken me a long time, but I’ve learned that I absolutely do not need to say everything that comes to my mind, especially in company that I’m not especially close to (or at work, yeesh). And I will make mistakes now and then, but if I didn’t put a firm filter between brain and mouth, I would have embarrassed myself more than twice – a week -maybe a day.

I had actually considered attending this book club back in December. I even checked out the book for that month from the library. But I couldn’t bring myself to get into the book. I love reading, but I’m aware that there are finite hours in my life and, relatively speaking, infinite books to read. I used to be a bit obsessive about finishing every book that I started, but I’ve gotten over that impulse, and that book I chose not to read beyond the second chapter. Now, I’ve heard that many people go to book clubs without doing the reading, but doing that on my first time rubbed me the wrong way. I thought that maybe it just wasn’t for me if that was the kind of book that was being read.

But the book for January was one that I found appealing. I skipped the foreword before I read the whole thing, and I understood when some of the group expressed that the book didn’t seem to have a plot or really go anywhere, but I really liked that about it. It was a portrait of life, not a procedural or thriller. Makes me wonder if that’s the kind of thing that I might be more inclined to write – the trick being that something like that must be very well-written in order to be interesting and retain a reader’s attention.

At any rate, I went to a book club meeting, and I managed not to turn it into a St. John’s seminar. I contributed where I could – mostly in remembering details and rephrasing points that others made – and tried to listen more than I talked. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, even though I burst into tears as soon as I was alone in my car.

I’m not sure why I cried, but I think I was just trying so hard to have a social interaction that I deemed acceptable that I wound myself up and had to release that tension through tears. Next time should be easier – and I am planning on there being a next time.

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