A few years ago, an acclaimed writer wrote an essay for the NY Times Book Review in which she claimed she’d rather be a part of a book club than attend one as the featured author, primarily because her main character was the recipient of much dislike.
As my appearances at book clubs grew, I found I had the opposite experience. Not that my book was so beloved, but what an unexpected pleasure came along with being published. Here is a snapshot: I get to sit around, eat homemade goodies, chat with ‘new friends’ and drink wine, although I hold off on the wine until I’ve established myself as somewhat entertaining and at least moderately well-spoken.
In my fiction, my often mid-life suburbanite protagonist is similar to me in that she is dealing with marriage, family, career issues, body changes, and of course, the neighbors. Also, despite sometimes making bad choices, which run the gamut from wrong husband, poor parenting tactic or second chocolate brownie, she is ultimately likable; yes, you can make the leap, I think I am too. In my new book, Cook Your Marriage Happy, the first in my Cook Yourself Happy series, and in my role as The Sous Therapist, it goes a step further; I get to incorporate my degree, my passion for food, and writing chops into helping people.
One week I attended a book club where the average age was younger than usual; maybe early thirties. These delightful women taught me something I’d forgotten; new moms with small children and babies, who manage to get out of the house for a night, do not want to go home. They want to eat, drink and talk trash. They will happily cook their marriages, families, and selves happy. They demand concrete advice, like what they can do now to be prepared for when their son (who isn’t yet potty-trained) decides to have sex or alcohol in the house. They are so much fun. Which explains why, at 11:45 pm on a weeknight, long past my time commitment, we were still going strong.
Later that night as I collapsed into bed, I found that I wasn’t tired at all, whereas I bet the young attendees from the meeting fell fast asleep the moment they got into bed, after all, they still have 4 am feedings and 5:30 wake-ups. I started thinking about how every age has its benefits. As we move into the forties and beyond we sacrifice our tight skin and endless energy but gain a little freedom and hopefully, an ability to laugh (constantly, if necessary) at ourselves. Since I do not have midnight feedings and dawn wake-ups, I get to rouse my partner at 2 am with my revelations about sex and youth and…well, let’s just say he doesn’t mind at all.
To my fellow authors and the few who feel uncomfortable with book clubs, I say, just look at the unexpected perks of book clubs! Both during and after. I think you get the idea.