A Book Club of One


You know how every girl you ever knew was in Girl Scouts?

I was, too. I remember the uniform and the sash, especially the sash, because I’d get new badges and, if my mother was in one of her too bummed out to sew episodes, I’d fastened the badges to my sash with big safety pins. Later, when my own daughter was in Girl Scouts and I’d offer to sew on her badges, she’d roll her eyes at my big lopping stitch and say, “It’s fine, Mom. I’ll just use a safety pin.” It’s the Circle of Life.

So even though I was in Girl Scouts, I don’t remember anything about it except the badges. I don’t remember a thing about the other girls, the leader or even where the meetings were held. I don’t know what we did in the meetings. I just know about my sash and my badges and all the safety pins. I could probably diagram that sash right this very second if I could draw.

My forgotten Girl Scout life notwithstanding, I love the idea of joining things.

Like a book club.

I know people in book clubs but I’ve never been in one. Sometimes the people in book clubs complain about the books they are reading and explain that it wasn’t their turn to choose or they had to go with the will of the people. This wouldn’t jibe with my wild late night Kindle buys where one night I’m reading about brain surgery and the next about Martha Washington. My mad book-buying is the ultimate of living in the moment, albeit it dark and alone, since I don’t care about how wacky my virtual bookshelf looks (yes, I really did read all those pimpology books) and nobody but me knows whether I actually read what I bought, like that’s some measure of a book’s utility, having been completely read. Some books are satisfied with having been leafed. No matter. I’ve directed the executor of my will to smash my Kindle with one of my old high-heeled boots; what happened with me and my Kindle, late at night with my bedside lamp burning and the mister sleeping is stuff for the grave.

Interestingly (or not), I’ve never been asked to join a book club. Maybe people look at me and figure I don’t have what it takes to finish a book or maybe they think I’d bake lousy cookies. I’ve jacked around my thinking about this lifelong rejection by deciding that I wouldn’t want to join a book club that would have me as a member. And then I think if I was in a book club, I’d be all about gathering badges and pinning them to my sash with giant safety pins. It ended up being the only thing that mattered with Girl Scouts, the only thing I remember and cherish: badges, in rows, their safety pins all pointing the same way. A book club experience would be ripe for a repeat of badge glorification.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I like my own little book club, my secret nutty society. It suits me.

5 Comments on “A Book Club of One

  1. I loved the girl scouts and my badges went up the back of the slash! I also have never been in a book club and wondered why no one has invited me. But my aunt the nun was in one and she had three questions as only a nun who taught literature could have, and I decided that reading a book for club would be too much work!

  2. Thanks, Jan! Love the Girl Scout reference, since my mom and both sisters were part of it. Love the book club reference too since that has played an important role in the life of our family. I hope you find one or get invited to one that suits you.

  3. I’m with you! I was part of a book club once. The women seemed to get too wrapped up in whether what we were reading was good literature or not. Much of what I enjoy reading doesn’t come close to their narrow view of good literature, but if I enjoy it, that’s all that matters. The only thing I did get out of book club, other than finger foods and wine, was exposure to titles I might never have read. The best was a book by Ivan Doig, “The Whistling Season”. I highly recommend it.

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