Friday, September 11, 2009

Book club compulsion

Whew! It's over for another year. The annual hosting of "the book club" at my place and the cleaning and preparation that goes with it. My living room doesn't normally look like this--but the other night it did.

I've been meeting monthly with this group of women to discuss books for more than 17 years. We take turns hosting the group, leading the discussion and offering refreshments when it's our chosen book that's being read. It's a good group even though we're not all close friends. It began with 12 members and then a few years ago we added two more. In all that time nobody has ever left the club (except through death, when one member succumbed to Melanoma--that was a sad time!)

The thing is I know these women pretty well now and I feel comfortable with them, although it took a while because most of them are different from me. They work as consultants, managers, lawyers, and at the university. Me, I'm more the aging hippie type, left the government job years ago and spend my time jumping from one thing to another, doing a little bit of art, a little bit of writing, dog training, house renovations--and then there's the spiritual channeling thing that some of them can't even get at all. But by now I'm comfortable enough to just be myself at these meetings. S0 that's a good thing.

But--that doesn't stop me from spending two full days preparing my house and my garden when it's my turn to host the meeting. Harry and I spent one entire day weeding and clipping the garden and mowing and trimming the lawn; then the next day we deep cleaned the house from top to bottom, waxing floors, wiping fingerprints off the doors, polishing furniture. Plus I made brownies and fresh plum cobbler and purchased special olives and pates and expensive crackers, set the table with the best table cloth and china and candles.

So the meeting went well: people complimented me on my garden, everyone enjoyed the food, the book was generally well liked, we had a good discussion and some laughs. And I'm exhausted!

Why do I do this? Why is it that I feel compelled to have my house so perfect? And I know I'm not the only one. Everyone in my book club goes overboard with cleaning and preparing when it's their turn. Harry say's it's a "girl thing" and maybe he's right. But what is it about a group of women coming to our houses that make us do this? Some weird kind of competition?

Well I do know one thing--my house is cleaner than it's been since the last time I hosted the book club. And now I'm free to enjoy meeting at the other "girls" houses until my turn comes again next year.


  1. Your post made me laugh. I tell myself that I don't do that cleaning thing - any more - but it's not really true. It probably is a girl thing. While I doubt I would do a real 'deep clean' for visitors, - I'm sure Anne would chivvy me into doing more than I wanted. I'm more the 'do it when it cries to be done' kind of cleaner.
    Nice to have it all ready for fall, though. Call it good planning...

  2. hi joanna - i'm the only guy in a book club with five other women - jane austen book club sort of stuff except i'm a way more together guy than the one in that book. i love this post because we don't meet at our homes - we always meet in restaurants and eat wickedgood food, drink heavenly drinks - and talk a little bit about the books!!! it's neat to see the other side of book clubs - the one i thought i was getting into!!!! steven

  3. Hi Steph, you're right at least my house has had a seasonal cleaning.

    Hey Steven, I like the idea of a restaurant. It would be so relaxing. But then my house wouldn't get cleaned would it? Good for you for joining a book club with women. I'm sure you contribute a great deal to that group.

  4. looks like a lovely living room to spend time talking about books... my only experience of book clubs was the year i spent in Oz but there was little book talk if I remember... what have been some of the highlight books this year???

  5. Hi Catherine,
    We loved Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and Still Alice, by Lisa Genova was an first person tale of Alzheimers. Looking back a couple of years we liked Ian McEwan's Saturday and The Time Travellers's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. I'd say The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls was great for discussion. We're not overly analytical and we also spend lots of time talking about other things. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I sure enjoy yours.


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