The ladies at my gym, to whom we refer to as Valkyries, had been bugging me for weeks to start up a book club. I finally pulled my finger out and organised it. I chose three books for them to vote on, recorded myself talking about them (I’d only read one of the three so I used reviews to help inform me for the other two), posted a poll, we voted, we read the book, and met on the last Sunday of July. The book the ladies chose was The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and we met at the beautiful Riverbend Books and Cafe in Bulimba. I had some notes to help prompt and direct conversation, which included things like themes, characterisation, and plot devices, but I rarely needed them. The conversation flowed beautifully and everyone become more and more confident to share their opinions as the hour flew by. At the end I had organised for Vicky, Event Manager at Riverbend, to do a book chat for us and we used that to vote on our next month’s book: Circe by Madeline Miller.
I don’t want to spend the rest of this blog post reflecting on what we talked about, but rather the impact the actual book club had on me, the Valkyries that attended, and those that were unable to make it..
For those that came:
It was interesting to see their confidence grow. Many had said before coming that they’d never been a part of a book club before and weren’t sure what was expected of them. Throughout the month they shared their reading progress and thoughts (without spoilers and wasn’t that a tough skill for them to learn!). When we caught up they made remarks such as: “I actually finished the book, and I can’t remember the last time I actually finished a book!” During the meeting I could tell that they were taking it very seriously, but were also having fun. Opinions were respectfully shared and discussed, and I know that I learnt a lot about the women that came. It gave a real sense of community to women that tend to only hang out at the gym.
For those that couldn’t come:
There were a couple that didn’t come because they hadn’t read the book and possibly felt embarrassed. Upon learning this I made it very clear (to everyone) that not finishing the book because life gets busy is no reason to miss out if you’re able to come on the day. Book club can still be stimulating if you haven’t had the chance to read the book. Just hanging out with the women in your community is enough to spark new ideas. Others were unaware of book club and soon became interested in attending the next one! I think I’ll probably need a bigger table next time…
It hit me, how lucky I am to be able to talk about books, read widely, and explore new ideas through fiction as part of my job. I’ve been a fully qualified Teacher Librarian for three years now and I have never really stopped to think how lucky I am as a human being. I often remark on how lucky I am to work with the beautiful students at Mount Alvernia College, and how I get to read for my job and discuss books with the students all the time. What I didn’t realise is that I was missing that element of adult connection beyond my work. Getting to share my passion for books outside of my TL job and in my gym owner role is really special. The women that participated said that they really valued being able to have intellectual conversations outside of their own workplaces, and that they loved being challenged to think deeply not only about the book itself, but why they reacted the way they did. I hadn’t realised that I had been missing this interaction and connection with adults too. I love my students, and I love their passion for books, but it’s so lovely to be able to discuss (and for me, actually read) Adult Fiction in depth and without fear of saying the wrong thing. The Valkyries do not shy away from discussing any topic, nothing is off limits, and its so freeing to be able to talk about everything with women that challenge me to be better.
So, I cannot wait for our next meeting. We’re going to try and get in at Avid Reader in West End. I’m looking forward to reading Circe and hearing what the Valkyries have to say!
I had so much fun at our @valhalla_strength_sth_bne #valkyriesbookclub at @riverbendbooks this morning! I often forget how privileged I am to be able to read widely and talk about books daily. So grateful to be able to share that experience with my beautiful Valkyries. We voted for Circe next month and I’m super excited.
I asked the Valkyries for some selfies with their books and here are my examples that I gave them for inspiration 😂 Grumpy face was a tester because I was struggling with the steadiness of my hand 😂