Three people engaged in a conversation.

 It’s just like a book club … only there’s no book and no club

I’ve belonged to four book clubs in my life.

Two in Canada, two in the States.  Different people; different places; the same experience.  A bit disappointing.

I love the impulse behind a book club.

In my estimation, the purpose of a book club is to spawn conversation that creates community.  Syntax and literary devices are worthy considerations, but the reason I’m there is to get to know you better.

The purpose of a book club is to spawn conversation that creates community.
… book clubs often fail in service of this objective.

For me, author Carol Shields summed it up best when she said: 

 “We want — need — the stories of others. We need, too, to place our own stories beside theirs to compare, weigh, judge, forgive and to find, by becoming something other than ourselves, an angle of vision that renews our image of the world.” 

In my view, book clubs often fail in service of this objective.

Right now, I really need the stories of others. Right now, I really need to renew my angle of vision as, heaven knows, there’s a new world taking shape out there.  It scares me. I bet it scares you, too.

I miss conversation.

I miss conversation.  My mind is going to weeds without it.  Just as a child learns to be in the world by witnessing his parents’ daily exchanges, I’ve come to see that those exchanges are the larger part of me. Cecilia at the drugstore; Lolita who hands me my daily coffee; Omar at the hardware store: the warp and weft of my daily life. Who am I without them? A woman who picks at scabs and nests spoons in a drawer. It’s hardly a life.

As my body gets softer, my mind gets harsh and brittle.  My unvarnished self stares back at me from the mirror and, frankly, I don’t like what I see. There’s no amelioration. No social self to offset the unadulterated self. I am distilled to self reproach. Most days I walk in circles. I return to the kitchen time and again with the question, why did I come in here? Ah, yes: scissors! And why did I want scissors? Hmmmm ….  Why indeed?

Little gets done.  

When it comes to physical distancing, I’m a veritable sasquatch. But in the process, I’ve kind of vanished. We’ve all been given the great gift of foresight.  Old age?  The pandemic has been a crash course in what to expect. We know now – irrefutably – that warehousing people without sufficient social engagement can be a death sentence. Hope, as Emily Dickinson said, is a thing with feathers, but it takes a lot of circulating air to keep hope afloat.

So, here’s the idea.

A provocative little story from me. Your thoughts on the same.

I call it The Bookless Club as it’s just like a book club,

only there’s no club

and no book.

You can participate as the material appeals to you.

It doesn’t require a scholarship or hours of rumination. Just your thoughts in the moment of reading.

You can email me these thoughts at thebooklessclub@gmail.com. 

There’ll be new material every week on wide-ranging topics and you can see what other people are thinking about on the topic.

Me? I’m a Canadian journalist and I’ve been running The Bookless Club, off and on, for years in Canadian publications.

I’ve enjoyed it immensely and, judging by responses, so have the readers.

Join me, won’t you?

So, I’ll be waiting for you, like a five year-old at a garden gate.

Eager to hear ‘the stories of others’ during this most trying of times.

And even after things get back to normal (and that can’t happen soon enough)!


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