We were heading for Christmas and I felt worn out; weary from work and the overwhelming planning and shopping that always consumes me on the lead up to the big day. So, while I may have read a few pages each night, nothing was sinking in. After skimming a couple of pages but believing I had been reading, I would reluctantly return the bookmark to its new place, close my blurry tired eyes and surrender to my lunar love–my Tempur (I love this mattress) allowing peaceful sleep to overtake me. This became the repeated evening ritual. Eventually I surrendered to failure and accepted I hadn’t made any progress with the book at all. With resolve I looked forward to time off over Xmas when I could sink myself deeply into this book, the characters and the story, and read blissfully without interruption.
Weariness doesn’t stop my mind however and I had been reflecting on the last few book club books I read and how powerfully they had taken me into my life. I recognised the impact a book can make on me personally and how it can be transformative. It can be gentle and subtle or it can be blatantly obvious—in my face—and, sometimes downright brutal.
I realised through pages of purposeful, well-chosen words typed on paper bound as a book, I am innocently but emotively opened to my past, often exposing parts of me that yearn for exploration—a bidding to step back and create distance and space for discernment, insight and new awareness. An invitation to validate and bolster my understanding and perception of an experience or blow the lid clean off and compel me to look closer, analyse, dissect and question further. The latter in the hope of releasing shackles of worn, outdated ideas and dogmatic views that may no longer be relevant or needed, and that keep me stuck in the past or spinning my wheels in the present.
A Month of Sundays is a timely and perfect example of this very realisation. I related to it immediately. Four distinct older women (like Fiz and me…60s to 70s) from different pasts and with diverse life experiences—all staunch members of a waning online book club—decide to get together rather than Skype to read and review books they have individually chosen. They stay together for four weeks in a country house in the Blue Mountains and discover more about each other and themselves than they could ever have imagined.
I was captivated by the character’s openness and ability to fathom their lives and how making sense of their past influenced and shaped their future. Their holiday together exposed their strengths and weaknesses, their fears, their courage, their idiosyncrasies and, unexpectedly, their self-created selves. But most importantly, with trust and support from the group and the deep friendships that had developed, they found the courage to unmask—to expose and embrace their true authentic selves and to accept the prize for this honesty—freedom—the ok to be free to be me. It was a great read.
There is so much more to a book club. It’s more than just reading, reviewing and talking about books. It’s a reason to prioritise books and reading. To read for pleasure and to relax and enjoy. Its friendship and sharing. And, it’s an opportunity to be introduced to different authors and genres that otherwise may never have been of interest. Reading is soulful, and when I take the time to immerse myself in a book—the characters and their stories—my soul celebrates too with another opportunity to learn and grow, even just a little bit more.
I thank each and every remarkable woman that together vibrantly shape my book club, Between theSheets.