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Hummus & Stories

03.14.2017 / WORK

A brief history of my involvement in book clubs:

  1. Host a playdate with your girlfriend and let the conversation meander from life and schedules to big dreams and good books. Get interrupted by the superhero toddler who got his cape stuck in the doggy door, forget conversation entirely.
  2. Respond to your girlfriend’s text three days later – what was that book you were telling me to read? i forgot! – by writing – omg we should totally do a book club!
  3. Pull into your friend’s cul-de-sac at 8:04pm on a Tuesday night, heirloom chips and beet hummus in the passenger seat.
  4. Realize you forgot the book.
  5. Realize she forgot to order the book.
  6. Realize the other friends you invited have cancelled – Adeline has the stomach flu!Have an early morning work meeting, so sorry! – Inlaws in town (emoji emoji emoji).
  7. Eat your weight in hummus and listen to bad 80’s music.
  8. Stick to playdates.

One of the greatest, most unexpected rewards of publishing a book has been hearing from the book clubbers. The ones who have made it work, the folks who rally every Friday night over a tall glass of merlot and a historical fiction. The ones with bursting schedules and towering responsibilities who still manage to reach over to the nightstand, night after night, and crack open a spine or two.

Who have chosen to crack open yours.

(It is still an immense honor.)

Last month, a text from a friend:

Our book club is reading Chasing Slow! Wanna come?

I am curious. What does a successful book club look like? Does everyone remember the book, remember to read, remember the hummus? Who are these elusive book clubbers, and how are they pulling it off?

I’d be honored! I say.

I pull into a stranger’s cul-de-sac at 7:41 on a Wednesday night, my book in the passenger seat.

(Someone had dibs on hummus.)

And as a handful of bold, boisterous women trickle into the door, as we eventually move into the dining room after hours chatting wildly in the kitchen about renovations and spectrums and getaways, as we refill our wine glass and settle into some semblance of a discussion, it occurs to me that a book club isn’t really about books, is it?

It’s about stories.

The ones we read, the ones we live.

The ones we share.

When I first launched Chasing Slow, I offered a downloadable group guide for those elusive book clubbers I so loved and admired. There were journaling prompts and far-reaching questions, thought-starters and brainstorming ideas. And at the top of the page, this –

How to use the below prompts:

Pick a date. Write it in your calendar, in pen only. Resist the urge to cancel the morning prior. Bring cheese. Talk about the kids, husbands, jobs. Then, stop. Shift. This is for you. Talk about you. Give yourself permission to discover yourself in your answer (it will not be the first one you arrive upon). Do not mince words. Ask more questions, of yourself and others. Be respectful. Be open. Be a good listener. Be kind, be kind, be kind.

I have since visited three local book clubs, and have since watched this shift time and time again. There is the talk of the kids, husbands, jobs, hours chatting wildly in the kitchen.

And then, the shift. We move into the dining room, we refill our wine glass, and it is only us and our words and our stories.

The ones we read, the ones we live.

I once was asked by an interviewer about the medium of Chasing Slow. Why did you write this as a book? Why was that necessary for you? Why take these conversations offline when it’s already so vibrantly – so efficiently – happening online?

And the answer is simple: something beautiful happens in the kitchen. Something lovely arrives when we shift from consuming online to communing offline.

(With hummus, no less.)

Last week, I hopped on to Vistaprint to create a set of printable thought-starters from the guide I’d offered online. I wanted something for the book clubbers, something tangible they could hold in their hands, something they could doodle on and dig into and dog-ear. Something to keep for a bit, if they’d like.

They needed to be inexpensive but lovely, and needed to arrive in time for another book club visit next week. Brochures, it was decided, and within days, the box landed swiftly on my front porch, ready for a new set of stories.

The ones we read, the ones we live.

Ken brings in the box while I’m making dinner, Bee chattering cheerfully on her stool.

Where do you want the brochures? he asks.

Counter, please, I say, stirring the chili.

Something beautiful happens in the kitchen indeed.

 

 

This essay was written for Vistaprint. As always, opinions and text and hummus obsession are all mine.

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Please be respectful. Design for Mankind (Minikind) is a place for positivity, inspiration, constructive criticism and healthy debate. Comments are moderated. Those that are deemed inappropriate, including general or self-promotional spam, untruths, offensive or harassing statements, profanity or comments unrelated to the post will be deleted.

  • Lol for the last sentence.
    I still have to buy your book. Somehow there is a threshold for me, because off the distance it has to travel to get here. But I do want the paper version. Offline. In my kitchen :-).

  • layla bb solms

    how would a girl like me get my mitts on a brochure for your book?

    • happy to send a PDF of the virtual small group guide — email me! :)

  • Brochures are a great idea! I work in an industry that has been trying to go paperless since I started in 2008 (engineering, I manage the office) but I am and always will be a paper girl. = )

  • Georgi

    Order placed. Due to arrive in Dublin between the 23-30th of March. Oh so looking forwards to it!!

  • Funny enough, I coordinate a virtual bookclub and right now we’re reading your book! Meeting in person would be ideal, but as long-time girlfriends in different states and with commitments for family, work, etc, we sit with our wine (often in pjs), talk to our screens, catch up on life and then shift. And it’s so good for the soul.

    • oh goodness, such an honor you’re reading chasing slow!!!! and i love how you’ve made a book club work for you in this season!!! well done, lady! :)

  • Lianne Lindner

    I started a book club and for almost 4 years 3 of us have been meting consistently once a month! Like you said, it mostly a good excuse to meet at a new coffee, shop, creperie, or farm to table restaurant, but it is a day of the month that we all look forward to and cherish. The last book that we read was yours, and it is amazing! Such a perspective that we all need to be reminded of! God has gifted you through your writing and experiences!
    In conclusion, my book club is a place where three women come together, grow deeper, talk about God, our lives and kids, and gather around amazing food. Because of this we have formed a deep friendship that will be there forever and that is a true gift and blessing!

    • oh goodness, thank you so much for reading chasing slow! and i love that your book club has been such a gift to you!!!!! such a blessing friendships can be. :)

  • Erin

    Some of my very best adult friends came from my book club. We’re all transplants to Chicago, and spent a good chunk of our late 20’s reading and chatting over wine. I’ve since had two babies and moved to the suburbs, so I had to quit…. but those girls are still some of my best friends! As I settle into this next stage of life, I hope to start a new book club in the next couple years.

    • oh i love hearing this, erin! friends who become family are some of the greatest gifts in life. :)

  • Thanks a lot! It inspires me!

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