Saturday, June 14, 2014

the sisterhood of the traveling book club.

Today, after a busy Saturday at the shop, I arrived home to Glitter and Glue, the memoir by Kelly Corrigan I had mailed off to my friends for our first ever long-distance book club selection. 

We had decided, the four of us, that with three different time zones and four varying schedules, a book club via Skype just wasn't going to work. But with all of us adjusting to new towns and new friendships, something familiar and comfortable still seemed important. We had met in book club, and continuing those meetings -- in some form or fashion -- felt like the answer. 

Enter The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Club, an idea so ludicrous and idealistic, I'm lucky my friends even put up with it. (I have Leslie Knope tendencies, as you now know.) 

I had read Corrigan's Glitter and Glue in just a few hours; flew through it as I do most memoirs, touched by her memories of her mother, in awe of the the way the mother-daughter relationship can seem so familiar across continents and generations. I had read the book and immediately thought of my friends, and I began to do what I have been doing for the past year: I figured I'd stick it in the mail and ship it off to one of them, to read at their convenience. 

But, in a fit of Knope-esque genius, it hit me: This could be a thing. A Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-inspired thing.

The rules? (Because of course.)

- Read the book in four to six weeks' time, then promptly mail to the next party. 

- Record your thoughts in the front or back of the book; underline favorite passages; dogear pages; treat the book like it's your own. 

- Whoever starts the book first ends up with the book. 

- A new book should start its rotation when one book ends -- or whenever you find a book you just have to share. 

- Have fun! Reading among friends -- even long-distance -- is one of life's best gifts. 

Like every good, overachieving friend, I printed the rules on the front page of Corrigan's book, packed it in a box, and shipped it out to Colorado. A month later, my friend sent it to Missouri, then sent me back book to begin a rotation. My friend in Missouri kept the book for a month, then sent it on to Illinois. Other books began making their way, with little rhyme or reason, across the country.

And today, after four months of travel, the very first book found its way back to me, in wonderful shape, but filled with little notations and markings left by each one of my friends.

I sat on my front porch and sifted through them all, glancing to see what lines had made my friends laugh, or cry, or think, or shake their heads. I had no idea how touched I'd be by all their ideas, their unique handwriting mixed in among the pages. (No one hand writes anything anymore, and after turning the pages of our book club book, I can't help but wonder why? There is ever so much more meaning in the things we hand write than in the things we type.)

The book had become a treasure in its four month journey, and soon I'll nestle it tightly on one of my overflowing shelves, proof -- yet again -- that one can never really have too many books. 

I write a lot, these days, about friendship. My little diatribes can be found in 40-character tweets or on rambling Instagram captions. I'm boring my family, I'm sure, with my concerns over a lack of friendship in this new town; Jordan is growing weary, no doubt, of my angst and self-pity. It has been five months since moving here, and in the grand scheme, of course, that is really no time at all. Friendship will come, and it will come, as everything does, in its own time and way. It won't be forced by me, no matter how hard I try. 

So I've given up, a little. I'm trying to get back into the groove of a Bible study I neglected, and I still gather with my letter writing club at the store. I set up staff dinners and take walks with Jordan; I sit on my front porch and wave at the neighbors, trying -- probably a little too hard -- to look friendly and fun. 

But I'm settled, I think, to the fact that friendship will come in due time, and -- like so many things with me -- will arrive slowly and purposefully, at its very own pace. When it does, the work and the effort will have been worth it. My little traveling book club is proof.


Amanda Holmes said...

What a fun idea! I may have to see what a few of my friends think about trying something similar....

Sabrina said...

Well Mrs. Annie, I won't technically be an in town friend, but I am happy that I will be much closer and we can restart our friendship. Hahaha, I don't know if that is a thing, but I see at least monthly visits in our future and I'm excited!!

Najee said...

This is amazing. I would totally love to adapt this idea, if all right with you? :)