Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Modern Book Club, if that’s what you call it?



Ok, I know I’m a snob, but why do people insist that they belong to book clubs, when they don’t actually discuss books. Last week, I unintentionally offended my mother’s friend when I laughed at the term “book club” being applied to their monthly meetings that involve unlimited wine, amazing food spreads, and even more talk, none of it I would term book club discussion. I am focusing on the word “discussion” here. They do, in fact, sometimes talk about books. One woman may give a quick plot summery of a book she has read, but not too much because she doesn’t want to ruin the end for anyone else, and then another may talk about a book she didn’t like, insisting it isn’t worth picking up, and then the final woman may summarize an article she read in Chatelaine about buying organic. Forgive me, please, but I thought book clubs were meant for the discussion of a particular book that everyone attending has pre-read. I may be ignorant here, but how can you discuss a book when no one else has read it.

I have attended my mother’s book club in the past, and been somewhat confused by the whole experience. Each woman briefly talked about a book they’ve read, being coy and giving evasive comments about the book in question. “I don’t want to give anything anyway, just read it”, and then they started whipping out books from their overstuffed purses and began passing them around the table. This lending library quickly digressed into discussions about who made what salad, can you pass the havarti, and isn’t this a divine cheesecake. Then they began passing out recipes on little cards and freely distributing the wine as they gossiped about friends and neighbours.

Now I am all for a group of women coming together for some social talk and a glass of Pinot, but come on, call a spade a spade. This is no book club, so why call it one? My mother suggested that I not be so rigid in my definition and that I needed to think outside the box, or in this case, I guess she meant to think outside the book. I suppose I’m textually fixed, but I just can’t see how this term fits. Maybe “book recommendation club” would be better. But why even focus on books. Clearly the food takes precedence in importance. Why not just make it a monthly event. Have some friends over for no specific reason at all.

So, I ask myself, why does the modern woman, who is in no way a desperate housewife, need to think up an excuse to have a social gathering among her friends? I have a theory — women love theme parties. Ever since the invention of wedding and baby showers, women have come together for conversation and hearsay scandal, all with a neatly wrapped present and the best egg-salad in town. Then there were the ever-popular Tupperware parties and more recently candle and scrapbooking parties. In fact, women’s gatherings have exploded in popularity. There are now goddess parties, where each woman is required to come dressed as the goddess she most identifies with, pregnancy parties, where a woman’s friends cast her belly in clay, and pole dancing parties, where, really I’m not joking, women get in touch with their inner sexuality by learning to spin and gyrate around a pole. The varieties of women-centered parties seem endless. And what do they all have in common — women coming together for friendship and a unique experience, huddled around a buffet of decadent desserts and an abundant supply of wine.

Call it what you want, but it is defined as fun. Cheers ladies!