How Joining a Book Club Changed My Life

(And also made me a happier person.)

I should probably be completing the book for my next book club meeting (Blankets by Craig Thompson) but I have the sudden need to put this down somewhere. I have been thinking about this for too long now, about all the ways the book club has changed my life. About how it has become one of the things I look forward to, even while I am at a book club meet. About how it has finally fulfilled my very bookish fantasy of being part of something as awesome (honestly, this is the best word to define my book club) as this.

Starting off with the most important of all reasons: I finally have a place I belong. As a quiet child whose confidence levels weren’t anywhere close to average, I never found a place where I could fit in without trying. And I never tried hard enough to fit in.

Even now, I am aware that I don’t fit in well at places or with people. Even now, I know that some of my friends would prefer spending Sunday evenings at their favourite bar with other friends who drink over being with an aggressive never-stops-ranting-about-feminism-or-some-other-equally-drab-issue teetotaller like me. I know they’d rather settle at a fun bar than watch me gush over books as we pass bookstores. Why? Because the second option’s boring. Because I am boring. I have lost count of how many times I’ve told this statement to myself while growing up. I have lost count of times when I’ve tried making friends, only to lose them because I failed at trying too much. Because to a certain extent, I live in the fear of being too much even today.

At a very slow pace, I grew over this. Not saying that I am completely over the feeling of being boring, because it’s not something that will ever go away, but I am definitely more positive about myself now than I was five years ago. What helped me? Books. How books changed my life and made me a smarter, better, kinder human being shall be a post for another day. Right now I shall go back to the book club aka my place.

It’s a place where I can endlessly rant about my second favourite thing (the first being my twin) and not have people change the topic. With a group of people who I can be ‘boring’ with. With the kind of people that (hopefully) don’t think I am boring. With the kind of people who might’ve also once struggled finding the right place. A place they can call their own, without any fears.

And even though some of them might not consider me as ‘their person’ or the book club as ‘their place’, I will still call them my people and the club as my place. Because these people and our discussions have changed me, have made me realize that, holy God, these are the right people I have been looking for in life. There are five to six people in the book club I care about and for that I am so, so happy. We might not know personal details about each other’s lives, but we share a deeper connection: the kind of connection that only a common love for books has the power to make. And the kind that grows with every passing meet.

Second reason: Monday mornings. The one thing that most of us in the world dread.

The book club usually meets on alternate Sunday evenings, which is only twelve hours before I have to report to work on Mondays. I kid you not, every cell in my body is charged after a particularly nice meet. I have noticed the difference between my productivity levels on Mondays after book club meets and the Sunday evenings when I was whiling away my time. The difference is very obvious, I am sure my senior has noticed this too. Once, after a particularly exhilarating meet, someone asked me whether I was high. No, dude, it was the book club. Most definitely, one hundred percent the book club.

And the last and equally important reason: book recommendations! We are the sort of book club where everyone brings a book they’ve read recently, instead of reading one particular book. (Here’s where I say, my book club is better than yours!) On an average, there are twelve people attending the book club. Imagine the number of books I get to know about every other Sunday! Thanks to this bunch of book-loving people, I am now reading my first Jhumpa Lahiri book and will (hopefully) read one by Jonathan Franzen soon-ish.

And, oh, how could I forget, we have cake at every book club meet! Yes, a book club with cake. If you ask me, we are setting some serious book club #goals here!

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