Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Club Exchange - Gerbera Daisy Mom

Welcome to the second installment of Book Club Exchange, a new (and hopefully) regular feature on Booking Mama which highlights anything and everything book club-related! I am so glad that Daisy Mom/Melissa Mc. from the great blog Gerbera Daisy Diaries is stopping by today to share with us a little bit about her book club. When I first read this essay, I was surprised by how much Daisy Mom and I have in common -- I'd love to meet her because I just know we'd be friends! I'm sure many of you will relate to her essay about how important book clubs can be for those of us who love to read (as well as those of us who love to get out of the house!)

My slice of heaven….

It’s book group night – my favorite night of the month. It’s the one night I feel like I can take off all the “hats” I wear – mother, wife, friend, PTA volunteer, chauffeur, maid – and just be ME. I can talk grown-up talk with like minded women (who range in ages from twenty-something to seventy-something) about one of our passions – reading books. We’ve been meeting for 6 years – and I didn’t think our group would last 6 months.

I’d like to think I was a book groupie long before Madame Oprah made it vogue to belong to a book group with her official Oprah stamped books. I moved to Washington DC in 1993 (Oprah’s club started in 1996, I think?) to start my first “real” job out of college. Not soon thereafter, my friends from church invited me to their book group. Keep in mind, I’d never read for pleasure. College reading was a necessity and I don’t remember much about High School lit classes, nor did I read any of the childhood classics I was supposed too. So, the thought of picking up a book for enjoyment was totally foreign to me. The book selection that night was WATER FOR CHOCOLATE by Laura Esquivel. Between the book and discussion, my world was changed forever. I discovered that, first, I love food writing! Oh, the glories of reading about the delicacies in her book made me weep. Plus, I had no idea how much fun it would be to sit around talking “book talk.” And the refreshments after were, quite literally, icing on the cake.

After nearly 5 years of living in DC, my future husband swept me off my feet and moved me to NYC, where my monthly book group ceased. We had no friends, we commuted 3 hours a day, and worked 12 hour days. It was like living in a vast literary waste land. NYC was not meant for us, so after two years of managing the Big Apple, we were happily pregnant and off to the South. My first goal (after trying to figure out how to deal with a sleepless newborn), was to start a book group. I knew it would be essential to my survival as a new mom and individual. When my daughter turned one, I took the plunge. I sent out postcards to my friends at church, and the following month I had 10 ladies sitting in my very cozy, living room. We picked the classic, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and the rest is history.

Our numbers have fluctuated over the years, but every third Thursday I still get giddy over book group night. Some women scrapbook, paint, take Zumba classes, spend time baking -- I am talent-less in all of the above. But I read and I can talk – so book group is a perfect fit for me to be ME.


Gerbera Daisy Mom/Melissa Mc. is a mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary. She’s without talent in most normal activities – she doesn’t paint, sew, craft, scrapbook or quilt. She can be found in front of the TV during every March Madness college basketball tournament and on every Saturday during college football season. Her youngest was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at 5 weeks. She knows more about Children’s Hospitals than she ever wanted too. And when she grows up, she wants to be the first female commissioner of the NFL.

A huge thanks to Melissa Mc. for stopping by today and sharing how much her book club means to her! If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


Neelu said...


bermudaonion said...

This is a great post and a wonderful reminder that we women need to carve out some time just for ourselves! I love Melissa's bio and I'm going to check out her blog right now.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great story, and I love how she took the ball in her own hands and plunged in when she had to move to a new place. Inspirational!

Serena said...

Melissa's bio is a riot. love it. I need to expand my current book club since we lost a member.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Thanks again Julie!

Mrs. Melissa said...

Great Post!! I've been trying hard to start some kind of book club also. I've tried at church and work and I keep hearing that no one has time anymore - no time to READ?? I can't even imagine! I admit I don't have kids so I don't have as many time constraints. I really miss being in a reading group - any tips for trying something different?

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I love that you weren't a life-long reader and became a "convert" later in life. Such a powerful reminder that stories transform us.

And I love Like Water for Chocolate. What a great introduction to reading for pleasure!

When I stopped teaching to stay home with my first-born, I immediately started a book club. I was used to talking books with my students and needed a place to keep the conversation going. Though we moved several years later, that group is still growing strong.

AmusedByBooks said...

What a wonderful story! It brought a smile to my face about how wonderful book clubs can really be for people. Thank you for sharing!