Published on March 31st, 2012 | by Ann Rickard0
Ann’s Blog – Book Your Place In This Club
SOME time ago I read a book called I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club, by Virginia Ironside.
It was written as a fictional diary in the same manner as Bridget Jones’ Diary. Except this wasn’t narrated by an angst-ridden 30-something singleton, it was narrated by an angst-ridden woman about to turn 60 who felt that joining a book club meant you had given in to old age.
Like Bridget Jones’ diary, the book takes you through the daily tribulations any woman records when she’s keeping a journal. I related to much of Virginia Ironside’s character, the joy of becoming a grandmother, the concern about wrinkles, the fear of illness…all that normal stuff. But not so about the book club. While Virginia Ironside’s fictionalised diarist considers book clubs places where sad old women with too much time on their hands go to talk about old age, I belong to a book club where vibrant young women with not nearly enough time on their hands go to talk racy. And I’ve never felt younger since I was permitted entry to this select book club of just four members.
The reason for such a small membership has nothing to do with snobbery or elitism, it’s just that these women are so super busy with fulfilled lives, they simply cannot come up with a date more than once a month that suits each of them to meet. And for these book club ladies there’s no meeting in a forlorn hall or a dusty room to discuss books. If they’re going to talk books they want to do it at a lively restaurant over good food and a half dozen bottles of wine. I fitted in straight away.
I was given a glimpse of the fun when the ladies chose one of my books one month and allowed me to join them for dinner as an honorary but temporary member. Being simultaneously impressed and envious that these ladies could knock off a bottle of wine faster than I could, I decided I liked this book club lark. But alas, I was not allowed in at the time. It wasn’t until one of the ladies went overseas and the club dwindled to three members that I could be given permanent card-carrying book club membership.
Now I’m in and proud. Each lady chooses the book of the month and presents it to the others, and she also chooses the next restaurant. I love it that I am now obliged to read genres I would normally never go near. And read you must. The only rule in this groovy club is that you must finish the book. You cannot read the first chapter and toss the book across the room in disgust if you don’t like it. On you must soldier to the last page even if you hate the book.
So far I’ve read way out of my comfort zone. The memoir of a heroin-addicted sex worker (In My Skin by Kate Holden) took me inside a St Kilda brothel for an experience I never thought I’d have. And an academic’s descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s (Still Alice by Lisa Genov) took me to uncomfortable places I never thought I’d go. I’m now reading books I should have read years ago.
So Virginia Ironside’s book, I Don’t Want To Join A Book Club, might be a fun and engaging read, but all I can suggest to women of a certain age like myself is – go forth and join a book club.