In praise of book clubs. Joining a group of like-minded people to discuss ideas. Have you read a good book lately?

Have you read a good book lately? Joining a group of like minded people to discuss ideas. In praise of book clubs.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. J.K. Rowling

Last night we had a new member come out to our book club. Our club hasn’t met since February. We need to meet more regularly, but book clubs need to fit into our lives not take over our lives. We all love the book club; not only because of the books, but also the camaraderie, conversation, and closeness we’ve developed. It is a place to be real, and honest. We don’t pretend our families, lives, or anything else is perfect. Everything is up for discussion. We have diverse backgrounds, ages, and viewpoints. This isn’t a book club made up of close friends. We’ve become close by being part of the book club. Most of us didn’t know each other’s spouses or families when we joined.

Books give us a starting point. We ask questions and we reflect on how things in books resonate in our own life. When a book is followed with a discussion it makes it more powerful. We have more to think about. More questions to ask. We even had an author come out to discuss her book one evening. She enjoyed speaking with readers and we enjoyed meeting the author.

Having a reason to meet is a good reason to belong to a book club. It will expand our minds is another good reason. We will read books we wouldn’t otherwise read. We will hear points of view that challenge us. We will ask and answer questions and go deeper than if we read a book on our own with no discussion.

Every book club will be different. Some book clubs may meet over wine and cheese. Some will meet in member’s homes, coffee shops, or over dinner. We may go see the movie of a book they’ve read. Some may be very literary and serious. Some may be casual but connect over the challenges life presents and be there to bolster us when we need it.

Our book club has gone through many changes. We started when some of us had young children; babies have been born along the way. Children have gone onto University and out into the world. Relationships have broken up. Parents have passed on. Pets have passed on. What we haven’t had yet is a wedding of one of our members. That too could become a reality.

A little reading is all the therapy a person needs sometimes. Unknown

We can look through the list of books we’ve read and the members that have come and gone. We have one original member left, I was asked to join when the book club was fairly new. When the book club no longer works for someone they leave and other members are brought in.

Members have moved on for various reasons. For one member we aren’t a literary enough book club. If we don’t get the book read, if we can’t make it to a meeting, and if we don’t discuss the book at all it isn’t a problem. Life is too short to have our book club be another obligation. It should be a pleasure, a supportive group of people who can share opinions, ideas on life or whatever is relevant at the moment.

We have chosen some fabulous books and some duds. Some books we could discuss, again and again, some are never mentioned again. Being part of the book club is one of the great pleasures of my life.

Last night we went to a coffee shop. Our next meeting we will be going to a desert place owned by the aunt of one of our members. In the beginning, minutes were kept and it was much more formal. It morphs and grows as each member comes. There is a limit to the number of people that can meet comfortably in a coffee shop. Too many and it won’t work, too few and everyone is obligated to show up or there is no meeting. We are now a group of seven. Our club is small enough to be able to meet anywhere and large enough that everyone doesn’t need to attend if their life doesn’t allow it.

It is easier to have a set meeting date like the third Wednesday of the month and whoever can make it, makes it. We’ve tried to accommodate by finding a date that works for everyone but that is very hard. Life gets in the way.

I highly recommend being part of or starting a book club. We get a lot more out of it than just books read. It seems many people have had bad experiences with book clubs. This is the first one I’ve joined and it’s close to twenty years we’ve been going. Too high of expectations may be why some clubs fail or members are unhappy. Some members only want to discuss the book and nothing else. That would make a drier, stuffy book club.

Meeting in member’s homes can seem like too much work and an inconvenience for the member’s families. Coffee shops work the best for us, no muss, no fuss, no array of goodies we need to consume, very little expense or preparation.

Sometimes meeting in someone’s home is the only way they can be part of the meeting. Flexibility is in order. Our book club isn’t disbanded if we don’t meet every month. We don’t ask people to leave because their life is too hectic to get the book finished, or sometimes even started.

Book clubs like everything else in life will be what we make it. Having a supportive, stimulating, and engaging book club is the goal. Like everything else in life, we bring ourselves to the mix. If we join a book club that doesn’t quite fit, we can join or start another.

If you’ve ever thought you should be part of a book club, what is holding you back?

Books don’t just go with you, they take you where you’ve never been. Anonymous

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, reading, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

If you purchase an item through the Amazon.ca link I may receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon.ca affiliate program.

See all 6 images

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life Hardcover – Sep 4 2018

by Radha Agrawal (Author) 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews


 See all 4 formats and editions


Friends and laughter. Laughter is the best medicine.

Friends - photo of garden by Errol Thomas

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

Last night we had our book club meeting. We usually meet at a coffee shop. We started doing that years ago because no one has to spend the day cleaning, no family members have to find something to do while we laugh and giggle, and it is so much easier to watch what we eat.

One of our members broke her ankle this summer, she just got the plate and screws taken out yesterday and thought it would be easier if she didn’t have to take herself to the coffee shop. We laughed over pumpkin pie, German cookies and English tea. She had wine but we all drove so we did the responsible thing and declined. We didn’t need wine, only togetherness.

We read books we would never read if we weren’t in a book club. The book pick is a birthday gift from a daughter who works in a book store and loves books as much as her Mom.

Another members is going through family stuff and said she can’t read, can’t concentrate maybe we should do a movie night. We are all up for that. When she heard the book recommendation she thought she might be able to read it. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. We are all intrigued by the title; after all we enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey.

We are able to talk about everything in our book club. If we can’t make sense of nonsense at least we get a few perspectives on it. Life is complicated, everyone is going through something. We help each other by being the listening ear; we see things from different views. Because we aren’t knee deep in each other’s lives it is easier to talk about some stuff.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas

I was listening to a talk on YouTube and the commentator was saying we used to get from a village what we now expect from our spouse. It is too much to expect our spouse to meet all our needs. Widening our circle of friends is especially important as we age, when our circle could easily be shrinking instead of expanding.

It seems that after age sixty five friends make a bigger difference in our lives than when we were younger. Strong family ties are linked to happiness, but their importance stayed about the same over our life time.

Valuing our immediate family is good for our health and happiness at any age. The older we become the more important it is to have strong friendships. We are happier and healthier when our friends are happy, and we are more likely to be sick when we don’t value friendships or our friendships are in trouble. Friendship quality, often predicts health more than any of our other relationships.

Joining groups is a good place to meet likeminded people who become friends. Investing in friendships that inspire us to stay healthy gives us a better chance of being healthy. We often have the same habits our friends have. Healthy friends, with healthy habits mean we are more likely to be healthy with healthy habits.

I see this in my mother and her friends. She walks with a friend almost every morning. They met when they bought houses side by side. Mom at ninety three would not be as healthy without the walks or the friendship. If the last new friend we made was years ago maybe we should rethink. We can widen our circle at any age, as we get older it is more important than ever.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Khalil Girbran

To subscribe or comment click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, please comment.

See this image

Books are our window on the world.

The Magic of Books photo of bookshelf by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. George R.R. Martin

This is my 100th post. It seems today I should say something profound. This is one of the problems with what we think are big events, milestones. The magnitude of the situation makes us not be our self.

We over think, we worry, we can’t be our self, we have to be better than our self. This is our first mistake, we are who we are, we can only be who we are. We can be our best self, or our worst self, or somewhere in between but we are always our self. We are enough.

I’m happy in July with my son’s help this blog was created. There are many things I don’t know how to do on my website yet. It’s a learn as I go process. Waiting until things are perfect is how we don’t get done what we want to do. It made sense to wait to start the blog until after my daughter’s wedding. I’m glad I started it before; it was fun to write about the preparations.

What do we get out of the things we do? We feed our soul. Writing for me is how I understand the world, relationships, things that happen. Reading is where we find new worlds, experiences, relationships and answers. Questions we can’t articulate find resolution in books. We experience situations similar to our own through reading giving us an understanding of things we feel, want, or have worried about. We find we aren’t alone in our questions, longings, dreams, fears, and weakness.

Books have been my window into the world. As a child I walked to the town Library at lunch with my arm full of books to exchange for more books. Going to the Library was the highlight of my week. I love libraries, bookstores, and second hand stores that carry books. I love to look at what others have read. There are gems in used book stores we would never find anywhere else. Looking at someone’s bookshelf is like lifting the veil on their inner self. Every book on that shelf is there for a reason. What would people think if they looked at mine?

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

When I have had questions about relationships, life, health, creativity, I’ve turned to books. Sometimes there are no answers only other people’s questions but they are helpful too. It is comforting to know others have struggled with what we struggle with. Knowing they muddled through can be comfort enough.

At the book store I sometimes look at people and watch what books they pick up, what isle they are in. What brought them to the books on health, relationships, or tarot cards?

We understand people and their struggles in books. We know them more intimately than real people. In books we learn their thoughts. In real life we only think we know what someone is thinking. Part of miscommunication is the distance between what we think they are thinking and what they are really thinking. Books are simplified, only the important is included and we finally see things we have been unable to understand or verbalize. The author simplifies what we find too subtle, complex, or vague to understand. Simplification renders life in a way we can understand it and apply it to our own life and relationships.

Authors cut through the common core of experiences and we have ah ha moments. We come away with more understanding of the struggles, cruelty, injustice and magic of the world. We can reach the highs and lows of emotions as we read, helping us look at the real world with more empathy, hope, and understanding.

Not all books will resonate with us. Even books that everyone else reads and love may not be the book for us. When we find the book that speaks to us our minds become less clouded, our hearts become more open.

If we read widely, deeply, often, we will find books that resonate with us. They speak to us, they change us, they help us feel and understand the human experience. We are truly immersed in another world, time, and experience. We become richer, deeper, and thoughtful as we are able to understand what others experience. The more we read the more we are able to process what we are experiencing. We become more compassionate, empathetic human beings, we can see more than our point of view.

Things we could not experience we can experience in a book. We can understand oppression; we can even understand the oppressor. How one thing led to somewhere no one wanted it to go becomes apparent. We can use what we read as a cautionary tale and apply it to our own lives.

We can recommend or give a book to someone we think will help them when we don’t have words. Books change lives. If we have nothing else to offer someone, sometimes a book is the best thing. We can’t make them read it, but we never know when they will pull it off their shelf or pick it up off their night table and open it to a passage that speaks right to the heart of their problem. Maybe it will never help them, maybe picking it out spoke to the heart of our problem.

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. Jean Rhys

To subscribe or leave a comment click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, please comment.

See all 3 images

You’ve GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their LifePaperback – September 4, 2007


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empathy and Reading. Reading changes lives, we understand other’s struggles through reading.

Your Habits Can Make You A Star - Starfish photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Click on the picture to leave a comment. Please leave a comment.

When children read stories, they are given the opportunity to understand the story from the perspective of the characters. Think of reading as a game of role playing, where children can practice seeing the world through someone else’s eyes that allows them to develop an understanding and respect for the experiences of others. Dr. Borba

Developing empathy is being able to see things from another’s point of view. Last night my husband put on a movie from netflicks. Sometimes we get a hit, sometimes a miss. Last night “Same Kind of Different as Me” was a hit. Would this book be more powerful than the movie? I rarely read a book after I’ve seen the movie, but I often see the movie after I’ve read the book.

This is a profound story about volunteering and an unlikely friendship that changes lives. This morning I looked at a critical review it says, “This profound story reminds us that no matter how deep the differences that separate us, just a bit of love may help us to see others dignity. The second review says “Heartfelt and well-made, this meant to be inspiring movie has positive messages and likable characters but little in the way of originality or depth.

This is a true story based on a man’s memories after his wife’s death by cancer. If it was fiction the author would have made the characters more flawed. One of the reasons I believe in fiction, the lie that tells the truth, is precisely because we get to know the flawed inner character. However, a true story where the power of love makes a difference and shows us how to live a better life is more powerful than make believe characters. When we see someone else do something seemingly small that has an impact. We see how we too can have an impact.

The power of books and movies for me is learning about people, places and things I don’t have time in this world to learn from experience. We can go back in time, we can go forward to what someone thinks the future might be, should be or could be. It might be uplifting or a cautionary tale to make us think about choices we should or should not make.

We feel we understand struggles by people completely different from ourselves. That may be hubris on our part that we think we understand what others lived. As a child I lived the building of the American frontier through Laura Ingalls books. People lived through the industrial revolution with Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

In a paper just published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, the academics reveal that those who had recognized more literary fiction authors in the list were better at inferring others’ feelings, a faculty known as theory of mind. Genre fiction is defined in the paper “by its focus on a particular topic and reliance on relatively formulaic plots”, while literary fiction is defined “more by its aesthetic qualities and character development than its focus on plot or a particular set of topics and themes”

What we read changes us according to Castano and Kidd when we read about other people’s experiences, journeys, struggles we understand and have empathy. Not all fiction draws on the same psychological processes in the same way. Readers already know this. We understand some reading impacts us in ways that other reading does not. We never know when we pick up a book what nugget of gold is contained within. There are fewer nuggets in certain genres, but I have read some profound Harlequin Romances and some less profound works of literature.

Authors are categorized for marketing purposes. Many writers, I believe write what they feel compelled to write. The publishing company puts them in a category they may feel they belong in or not. It is not possible to find every nugget in every book. It is not possible to read every book. I try not to judge what other people read, I am happy to see them read. Read wide, read deep, just read!

In a diverse world it is more important than ever to read so we can understand people, situations, and ideologies from another point of view.

 Listen  

See all 3 images


Follow the Author

White privilege and writing. Write the best story you can, the one only you can tell.

Lulu Listens Photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”
—Eudora Welty, WD

Yesterday I read an article about white writers writing about non white characters. The author believes people should tell their own stories. The author mentioned two bestselling books. The Help and Memories of a Geisha both written by white writers.

I think I understand where the author is coming from; she doesn’t like the protagonists of white writers to be people other than white. She doesn’t like using racially mixed people as a way of making our writing more diverse and more inclusive. For many white writers mixed people are in our families, our communities.

It is going to be limiting for writers if women can only write about female protagonists, men can only have male protagonists, and don’t have a gay protagonist if you aren’t gay. White authors should not include Aboriginal, black, Indian and Asian characters. Censorship is something writers have to fight. If writers don’t have free speech. No one has free speech.  Some question the need for limits  to free speech, because they feel not being able to talk about things doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse.  I’m on the fence and I see  where the lines blur.

As a writer, I’ve written a novel and I’m wondering if I have to write out the non white characters. What is the story I should tell as a white woman in multi cultural Canada? My characters set in multi cultural Canada are multi cultural. Each writer has a unique voice and point of view. To fence off certain stories to only be told by certain people I don’t think is the way to go.

Readers want a story, that resonates with them that tells them things they knew, but forgot and tells them things they don’t know. We all read for different reasons at different times. Some readers read a wide array of subjects, genres, authors, is one way better than another?

When white writers hint at stories that aren’t their stories in books. Sometimes that is the first a reader is exposed to that idea, history or practice and they search out an author who wrote that story in depth. I’ve learned many things in books because something was mentioned as a small nugget in a book. It can be an ah ha moment that leads us in a new direction in our reading.

To write about the confused young girl, do you have to have been as confused as your character? Crime fiction is not usually written by criminals. Are war stories only to be written by the warriors that were there? Historical fiction could not exist if this were true.

My book club recently read Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. We also went to the movie, we enjoyed both. I had a black women in my home one day asking if I had any books by black writers she could read. I did, I gave her a book by Mya Angelou. How would it go over if I was in her house asking for a book by a white writer? What about asking do you have a good book I can read.

I thought back in the 80’s we would come together as a society and become individuals of different backgrounds and experiences. It seems we are fragmenting into smaller and smaller groups and subgroups. There is always another group you can divide people into. Until you get down to the smallest denominator, the individual. I’d like to start there.

I hear actors complain there are no parts for them if they aren’t white. Then I hear writers say those are our stories don’t you touch.  I understand in part how authors that aren’t white feel. They feel it’s all yours already, why are you trying to tell the story I have to tell. We aren’t telling the story any other author has to tell. We are telling the story that resonates with us, the story that compels us to put one word on top of another.

When authors looked at The Help written by a white author, they might think they could tell that story, but they didn’t. Is that harsh? Readers are our audience, and readers can read any book they want. It may seem we have it made being a white writer. The challenge all writers face is to write a good book, and get it out in the world into the hands of people who will read it. On the individual level as a writer we are all equal; we are all starting where we are. You can’t look at Danielle Steele and think she represents white female authors.

As writers we shouldn’t worry about what story someone else is writing. How can we make our story the best it can be? What do we need to do to get our story out there? Readers are looking for a good story. Write it, we’ll read it.

Join my online book club. Some books need to be discussed

Stream photo by Errol Thomas

There is no frigate like a book. To take us lands a way. By Emily Dickenson

Today I am starting an online book club. With a forum (I have yet to create) to discuss the books in as much depth as people want. I even hope to get some interviews with the authors (if possible). We did have an authors evening last fall at my book club, it was fun and informative.

Joining a book club is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. We are a small book club; we’ve met in each other’s homes and coffee shops. I like coffee shops the best. No muss, no fuss and I don’t put on a couple of pounds because I can’t say no to the array of goodies in front of me.

Growing up on a farm, books were my go to for entertainment. They still are. Books are where I find information and understanding of life. Fiction is where I find the truth. Funny isn’t it, I thought nonfiction is where the truth would be.

As a writer I understand why we find the truth in fiction. We can put our deepest, darkest thoughts in a characters mind, we can recreate scenarios that help us understand the motivation behind others actions. Writers ask questions and ferreting out the answers becomes a novel. Novels are the lie that tells the truth, deep truths, uncomfortable truths, and disturbing truths. We know characters in a book better than we know our family members. We use that knowledge to understand our families better.

Novels are not the only books My book shelf is lined with self help books.

I love books. I love the look, the feel, the smell, the touch. Books resonate with us as individuals, what may touch one person deeply may not interest someone else at all. By joining a book club we read books we would not otherwise read. We discuss the book, and chat about the important things in life.

Will an online book club be as good as a book club in person? I don’t know? This is my first online book club. There is a physical limit to how many people can fit in a coffee shop. Online there is no limit, it can be open to anyone who wants to join. Come on this journey with me. We don’t have to live in the same City and be on the same schedule. The biggest problem we have with my book club is getting together.

The book I propose everyone read is 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson. This is not a political book, even though the media makes it sound like it is. I don’t think it is controversial but if it is, the discussions will be more interesting. This is a book encouraging us to build a life with purpose and meaning.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 23, 2018

Hardcover

Get it by Wednesday, Jul 25
FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon
More Buying Choices

Kindle Edition

Get it TODAY, Jul 21

Audible Audiobook

Free with Audible trial

Other Formats:PaperbackAudio CD

12 Rules For Life - Book

My first recommended book is by Jordan B. Peterson a University of Toronto Professor, his book 12 Rules For Life had a huge impact on me. My son highly recommended it. His first book Maps of Meaning as well as 12 Rules For Life I’ve provided links below. One of the goals of this blog is to recommend books that I have read that resonate with me. Books have been where I found the answers, sometimes to questions I didn’t know I was asking.

Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life is a hand book on how to live a better life filled with meaning and purpose.

If you are looking for a book to help your son or daughter navigate the world as they step out as young adults. This is the book.

With rules like:

Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone is today.

Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient.)

Tell the truth – or at least don’t lie.

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Be precise in your speech.

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Read it, and pass it on. This is a book whose time has come. People will tell you to beware of this book. Read it for yourself and I believe you will find the wisdom within will enhance your life. Anyone who follows Jordan B. Peterson’s advice in my opinion cannot help but live a better life.

I listened to this book on audible and I loved it so much I bought the hard copy.

Click here to get the book on Amazon

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 16, 2018

Paperback

FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon
More Buying Choices

Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief

Mar 26, 1999

Paperback

FREE Shipping
More Buying Choices

Kindle Edition

Get it TODAY, Jul 16

Audible Audiobook

Free with Audible trial

Other Formats:Hardcover