The Startup
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The Startup

Books Can Save You From Yourself

How a neighborhood book club saved my sanity

Photo by Valentin Antonini on Unsplash

Books have not always been in my life. The only person I can remember reading religiously was my maternal grandmother. She would read her red prayer book every morning and was always working her way through the alphabet of Sue Grafton’s novels.

She only made it to “P” before she passed away, and I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to catch up with her and continue her journey. She would be sad to know Ms. Grafton died before she could write “Z.”

If that’s not fucking poetic.

It wasn’t until high school that I truly began my love affair with books. My English teacher, Mrs. Bourgeois, recommended “The Handmaids Tale” for me one day after class. For those of us who have read it, you can understand from that book on I was hooked.

Fast forward through college and a quarter-life crisis spent in Washington D.C. (we’ll save that story for another post), I was back in my hometown of New Orleans with my husband…but I was lonely.

My husband’s job is time consuming and old friends all lived at least an hour away and were starting their own families. I needed to make new friends. So I started a book club.

It’s important to note here that why my sanity was saved from this book club, is not just the books, but the women I have met throughout the 19 months of our inception. Yeah…I’m going to get that specific.

We are a community of like-minded women who aren’t afraid to discuss our disagreements. I mean this for the books we discuss, but also for those times we talk about other things going on the world, particularly political.

I started the club for this reason. I wanted, no, needed strong women in my life on a schedule where I could see them and talk to them more easily than those loved ones who just weren’t around the corner anymore.

After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I spent only one year writing for a Louisiana-based newspaper before I was drowning in the pit that was bias based on who owned the newspaper.

I was done. I needed to spread my wings and ended up in Washington D.C. Because we are saving that diabolical time for another post, I’ll just say it didn’t work out for my career, but it did find me my husband.

A couple years into that, I decided it was time to move back home to be closer to family. And so we began our trek back to New Orleans. Things were getting to a normal pace and my husband was doing better in his tech career in NOLA than he was in D.C.

But something was missing that nagged me enough to the point I wasn’t enjoyable for my husband to come home to. I was miserable and lonely and unhappy, but at the same time was so happy to be back home and grateful for my amazingly supportive husband.

What was wrong with me?

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

It was in this thinking that I decided to put myself out there and meet some women in my neighborhood. Although I could have gone around knocking on doors introducing myself or bring over a pan of brownies, I also thought about the fact I didn’t want to scare anyone away or have them peek through their blinds and pretend they weren’t home. So I made a group. I posted it in my neighborhood info page on Facebook and our little slice of sanity was built.

We meet once a month to discuss our latest novel surrounded by locals and tourist in a nearby coffee and wine bar. We have wine, share beignets and the most amazing cheese fries, discuss way more than our latest read, and just enjoy each other’s company.

There are days where I still feel crummy and wonder what I’m doing with my life, but now I have some absolutely bad ass women to reach out to and bring me back to reality. Or just sit with me in nodding silence and let me vent. My husband thanks you ladies for that.

There is an amazing thing that happens when you can find “your people.” I have been lucky enough, and brave enough, to take myself out of my comfort zone and create a circle of women I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. We all deserve that warmth and comfort.

Now I need to get back to my book.

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Nicole Lorraine

Nicole Lorraine

New Orleans native, Irish descent. Copywriter. Editor. SEO fledgling. I know a little about a lot and a lot about a little.