Books Will Save Us

I have yet to figure out as an adult how you go about making new friends in a new place. I have moved many times in my adult life. Each time, I’ve started from scratch and wondered how in the world people find each other.

My people are book people. They are probably a number of other things but the people I hold close tend to be readers. They post memes about books on social media. They joke about spending all of their money at the local book store. They love to read and so it’s no surprise that I go hunting for a book club that I might be able to join each and every time I move.

There are some such groups connected to book stores. There are others that can be found on Goodreads and other online forums. But, here’s the real down and dirty truth about book clubs: they are most often convened by a group of friends that have gathered together over a love of the written word. They don’t publicize. They are not looking for new members. They are just glad they’ve found each other. I don’t begrudge them this though I have tried to drop not so subtle hints that I would love to join their ranks, but I know they are not looking for new members.

So it is that when I found myself in Kansas in this new world as a military spouse that I found a book club to join through the wonders and delights of Facebook. I read the book and I attended the meeting. I went hoping to meet my people. I went looking for book people, but they didn’t really want to talk about the book. They wanted to play all kinds of get-to-know-you games rather than talking about the book we’d all read. Maybe that’s fine. It wasn’t a particularly wonderful book and I’m still not sure that there was much to talk about even if I was hungering for some engagement with the text.

I tried another book club. It’s also on Facebook but it is one where I actually got invited by one of the members. They weren’t really looking for new members, you see. I read the book and it was challenging and hard. There was lots to talk about and the writing was fantastic. These were book people. They wanted to talk about those things, but then it came time to choose the next book and they wanted to read something light.

They chose fluff because there is so much that is overwhelming right now. It’s hard enough to read the news and figure out how to be an activist but in our context there is the added stress of the impending move. We are all shifting our energy into the next place — wondering where it will be and who our people will be there. So, they wanted to read something that didn’t challenge too much. They wanted to read something that they could just enjoy. Something about love, they chose because it’s February. Why not?

Book club is next week but I can’t bring myself to read the selection that was made. I’m not even sure if I will go as much as I want the connection and the conversation. I’d rather not read something about romance and more about dystopia. I’d like to understand more about how we got to this moment in history as my friend Jeremy lays out in his #PostTrumpSyllabus and admittedly I’m still working my way through this other syllabus that now seems so incredibly old but there is justice that needs to be done and it is justice that I seek in the pages that I read.

I do believe that books will save us. Ideas will save us and I guess I’m still looking for the poeple that are ready to talk about these things, however overhwelming and hard it might be. It is work that must be done.

This is my sixth post for #52essays2017 shared here. You can find more of my words over on my blog cookingwithelsa.org.

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