The Big Question — Can a Book Club Meet Weekly?

Dunshee House was dark. Not a sign of life. My heart sank – not a good omen. Wednesday evening, an hour before book club, and it looked closed. Had everyone given up and gone home? No, wait – was that a light in one of the upstairs windows? This was the place that in one hour was supposed to be warm and alive with readers in a cozy circle gathered for the second meeting of the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Book Club.

I’ll admit, I was nervous. The first meeting was bound to be well-attended, given my friends and the publicity. The second meeting would now be testing the popular belief that books could only be discussed once a month, that they could be “used up” in one meeting. This would be the meeting that would test that belief. Would last week’s members return? Would new members show up? I’d already started my day with an email from William saying he just didn’t have time for every meeting and wouldn’t be there, and Grant told me this afternoon that he just had too much homework, and Brad would have to work later at the bookstore tonight. Now this. I’d better get inside and turn some lights on, so whoever does come will know we’re home.

No need for panic. The house manager simply didn’t show up. Dave was upstairs in his office, and soon we had lamps switched on, sideboard heaters turned up, hot water for tea and coffee brewing. Roger would be house manager tonight – a book club member wannabe would had only a last couple chapters to read in this month’s book, Breakfast with Scot, but he hadn’t yet gotten his house schedule changed. He’d be on the other side of the sliding glass doors, reading during our meeting.

Greg and Tom arrived early, Greg with his black eye patch from the cornea replacement, Tom reading to him in the armchairs of the living room. I bring out a platter of cookies from the inexhaustible cookie tins in the kitchen – volunteers always make sure they’re full with homemade munchies. Soon the others begin arriving. Savoy, the boy from the teen shelter Lambert House, the kid who sounded like he was homeless, has returned – and he’s actually read the book, the one given to him by my UW intern, Grant. How thrilling that a generous act actually bore fruit!

Jeff had emailed me and returned, and Jayson emailed me and showed up for his first meeting, a delightful addition. Gene returned, and could talk about the parenting issues because he has three children of his own. Best of all, two young women came, our first female members, Marley first and then, a minute into the meeting, Amanda, and both had plenty to say about the book and did so in a charmingly personable way.

Before I knew it, there were twelve of us gathered in a circle of sofas and armchairs, engaged in a conversation that I only had to occasionally nudge with a question or comment to keep on track, an organic discussion of the book and the character Scot that evolved on its own, taking a different route through the novel than last week, with members engaged both as gay people exploring their beliefs and as readers exploring their own reactions and opinions. As each reader commented on the book, they revealed another layer of personality. We were getting to know each other. A thoroughly enjoyable evening! Far from squirming and looking at the clock, the members seemed to be caught by surprise and disappointment by my announcement at 7:20 that the meeting was over.

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About the Author:

Nick DiMartino is a university bookseller in Seattle, WA. He was a Booklist contributor from 2007 to 2009 and is the author of Seattle Ghost Story (1998) as well as numerous plays.

1 Comment on "The Big Question — Can a Book Club Meet Weekly?"

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  1. Our mystery bookgroup has been meeting every Tuesday night from September through June for over 30 years. It can be done. People plan around Tuesdays. WE used to read two books a week, but for the past 20 years, we’ve only read one. Great discussions, lots of spin-off groups, conventions and more. We all share a love of the book!

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