And how its disbanding in 2023 is okay with me.
I have always loved to read. Since I was a little kid, I would get lost in books. I would spend my summers in Florida reading in the hammock outside for hours and hours at a time. My elementary school gamified reading with the Accelerated Reader program, and I was all over that, earning as many points as I possibly could. When I got to college, my reading transitioned from fiction to textbooks, non-fiction books, and journal articles. When I started working, I read books and articles related to my work, but I lost track of the fiction that would fill my free time and let my mind wander to new places. When my children were born, I got some of that fiction back. It started as board books, progressed to picture books, and then finally, chapter books. I reread the entire Harry Potter series with my son, which was a wonderful way to experience that magical world again.
While I experienced a lot of joy from reading with my kids, I still wasn’t reading for myself. In December 2020, my sister-in-law invited me to join a book club that she was forming with some of her friends. They were going to meet virtually, and everyone would take turns picking a book to read each month. I was excited about the challenge of reading books that others selected, trying new things, and meeting new people, and I knew that the discussion that was going to come at the end of every month would keep me accountable to finishing the book.
In 2021, we met every month, and almost everyone showed up to every discussion. In 2022, attendance started to dwindle; by the end of the year, we weren’t holding monthly calls and it was hard to get more than a few people to join. The world had opened back up, and everyone was busy again. We aren’t going to hold another organized group this year in 2023, but I have already finished 2 books. I have four more ready to go and a long list waiting in the wings. We kept a group chat going where we can share what we are reading and maintain the connections we built over a shared love of reading.
Reading 24 books in 2 years, 22 of which were chosen by other people, was a wonderful investment in my wellness. I’ve proven to myself that I can make the time to read for myself, and I am so grateful the book club helped me establish that practice again.