My circle of friends has always been small but close. If you’re asking about good, close friends — I can definitely count them on one hand. Truth be told, I love that. When it comes to friends, it’s definitely all about quality over quantity and my best friends (Taylor, Katie, Sheena… I’m looking at you!) are the cream of the crop, girls who I consider sisters, people that I can count on through the best and the worst. My lack of a large number of friends boils down to my personality type: shy, quiet, socially awkward. Though I love my best friends dearly, in 2013, I decided it was time to expand my horizons and my circle of friends. I wanted more friends I could talk to and hang out with, and I didn’t know how to go about it. Making friends as a grown up is HARD! Ya know?
So I put out a call for book club members when I decided to start my own chapter of the Forever YA book club. Though this wasn’t my first attempt at starting a book club, it was the only one that has actually lasted. We’ve been going strong for over four years now, and our meetings are one of the highlights of my month.
How did we start? Starting the book club was fairly easy. I posted a Facebook status and had several acquaintances and casual friends comment that they were interested. Perfect! I knew that starting a book club could potentially turn these casual friendships into closer ones. From there, they added their OWN friends and acquaintances and it kept growing! We held our first meeting at a restaurant in September 2013 and had nearly 20 people show up. We were seated at a long table and could hardly hear one another. Yikes.
I left that meeting excited but a little unsure. Who were all of these people? There were way too many people present… weren’t there? How could I get to know and get closer to 20 people?!
Luckily, over time, book club thinned itself out. Like… within a month or two. By the end of the year, we were down to five regular attendees. That size was MUCH more manageable, allowing us to get to know one another better and actually spend time talking to each other. After about a year or so, one member dropped out and we were down to four. Another year later, a new member joined, so now we’re back up to five. I should also mention that over the years, we’ve had people come and go quickly, showing up to one meeting or two and then never again, and that’s fine! We’re always open to welcoming new people, though not a whole lot more… I think we’re a good size right now. We also stopped being a Forever YA book club and now just do our own thing. We followed their reading schedule for a few months, but decided to give that up when we wanted more flexibility. I had them remove our chapter from their website too since we were getting requests to join and our book club is much more casual than your typical book club.
What do we do? Every few months, we make a list of future books for a few months out. We’re pretty casual and easygoing about this and we all just kinda throw out ideas. We rotate each month who hosts, and occasionally have book club “outings,” where we’ll go to dinner and a movie if one of our books was made into a movie. For the most part though, we meet at our homes and each bring a snack or drink to share. We’re pretty awful about actually reading the books these days, and that works for us. We mostly get together to chat and snack. It’s gotten to the point where I jokingly refer to us as “Snack Club,” and I actually love that. HA! We also have a private Facebook group where we interact and talk about who is bringing what, who is hosting, etc. We do a Secret Santa swap each year too which has been fun.
Some months, it’s really hard for us to get together. Our “official” schedule is to meet on the last Monday of every month, but that doesn’t always happen. More often than not, we have to change the date, or at least one person can’t make it, or we have to cancel that month altogether… but that’s okay too! We’re flexible people (though it is always a bummer when we have to cancel).
The most important thing of all of this though is the impact it has had on my life and my friendships. I set out to make some new, good friends by starting a book club, and I’ve done exactly that! An old friend from my first job became a good friend again after years (Angela), I met a brand new, awesome friend in the process (Christine), and casual acquaintances from high school became friends (Melissa, Toni). I love, love, love our time together and that we’re not JUST a book club — these girls are my actual friends now, too. We go to each other’s parties and showers, text, chat about life, love, work, and hang out OUTSIDE of book club, too. They lend an ear if I need to vent, they offer advice when my dogs or son are giving me trouble yet again, and most of all… they just make me laugh and smile and feel lucky to call them my friends. I hope I do the same for them.
Book club was always about more than just books for me. It was always about putting myself out there and learning to socialize more. It was always about meeting new people and growing friendships I already had. I now have four new girls in my life that I was missing before. Their friendships mean a lot to me since making friends was always difficult for me to do. It’s even MORE difficult to do in adulthood.
To my book club girls, or just FRIENDS, as I like to call you… thank you. Thank you for showing me that it is entirely possible to make and maintain friendships as an adult. Thank you for not bailing on me when Caleb is whining again. Thank you for accepting me for me… quirks and all. Our first four years have been a blast. Here’s to 40 more!