I called my sister a couple weeks ago and asked when her book club planned to meet this month because I hoped to be there. Her book club is one of my favorite things about Bellingham.
It always starts with food:
And kids in pajamas on their way to bed:
And then we get down to discussion about the book.
These women have known each other for years. They know each other’s husbands, their kids play together and they attend some of the same social and church events in a relatively small town. But the book club discussions bring out something different each time.
The book this month, Crisis, is a collection of stories about growing up gay in America. I found it fascinating to be in a group of straight women talking about our experiences, points of view and politics based on how we were raised and where we’ve been. I love book club when it brings together a group of people with differing backgrounds to talk about a central subject. A subject with edges. A topical subject with weight to it that affects people you know. People you love and care about.
These discussions bring out passion. They bring out silence. They bring out confessions about how we grew up or what we used to think or what might have changed in us since the last time we discussed the issue. How our views affect our kids or our coworkers and how much they may or may not be deviating from how we were raised. And also about what it feels like to be on the cusp of a civil rights movement and how long it might be before laws change and society changes.
Politics don’t take over at book club because it always comes down to what we know, what we’ve experienced and how we feel. And then we listen to how the other women feel based on what they know and what they’ve experienced. We get a chance to hear opposing views and be gentle with people who are in the midst of a world view shake up. Topics with edges cause a shake up and sometimes we need some time to process afterwards.
I feel like I walk away from the Bellingham book club and I know a little more about the women in the club and I have a new perspective to consider. Plus I’ve eaten some great food, participated in a passionate discussion and gotten a chance to listen to someone else talk.
I know the world doesn’t operate like book club, but maybe it should.