You’ve just a course in miracles in, unpacked the boxes, and put everything neatly away (or maybe not). Everything’s new and unfamiliar-the house, stores, school, work…everything. You’ve left your old friends behind but haven’t made new ones yet. In a word: you’re lonely. Realistically, you know it can take months to begin to feel like this is “home,” but in the meantime… what can you do?
Why not join a book club? There are few better places to meet new people than a book discussion group. Book clubs offer an intimate environment where friendships develop and flourish. You’ll find fellow travelers-like-minded people who love to read and discuss books.
The terrific thing about book clubs is that you don’t have to struggle to start up a conversation with strangers: book club members have built in conversation starters-their books! If you tend to be on the shy side, no one will push you to talk-others are plenty happy to do so on your behalf. And if you’re gregarious, then there’s plenty to talk about-wonderful, meaty conversations about a subject everyone in the room has in common: the book.
The problem is, of course, finding an existing book club-one willing to take in newcomers-and that’s not always easy. Many clubs meet in private homes. You need an established network of friends to find one-and since you’re new in town, that’s exactly what you don’t have!
So where do you go, how do you even begin to search? Below are five good places to start looking. Try any one-or all-of these ideas, and chances are you’ll find a club.
Public libraries are the first place to start. They’re huge sponsors of local book discussion groups. Many sponsor one, two or more groups to accommodate different schedules-clubs that meet midmornings, during lunch hours, evenings, on weekdays or weekends. Some even offer “specialty” book groups according to reading genre: mystery, romance, biography, history, mystery or sci-fi book clubs. Library sponsored groups are open to all comers.
Local Y’s are another place to check. Many have book clubs, although you may need to pony up a membership fee and join the Y before you can join a group.
Bookstores love book clubs, for obvious reasons. Small independent stores or large chains often sponsor their own book clubs…or advise them when new books come on the market. Either way, bookstores frequently keep lists and may be able to put you in touch with a book group.
Churches frequently have book clubs. If you already attend one, great! Check it out. But even if you’re not a churchgoer, or you belong to a different denomination, it may not be a problem: not all church book groups require affiliation. Some church groups read books of a religious nature; others read widely on any subject. It’s worth checking into.
Newcomers Club is national organization with chapters in hundreds of cities and small towns. They’re a great way for new residents to make friends, and many chapters sponsor book clubs as one of their monthly activities. Check the organization’s online directory to see if there’s one near you-and give them a call. Even if the group in your area doesn’t have a book club, you have a ready-made group of newcomers to start one.
Finally, of course, draw on the knowledge of your new acquaintances. Just ask around-neighbors, colleagues at work, parents of your children’s friends, and even their teachers (teachers are big book clubbers). What you’ll find, most likely, are small, private clubs that meet in homes-groups that require an invitation to join…and invitations depend on whether the group wants to add new members or not. Still, get your name out there-and let whatever groups you find out about know that you’re ready, willing, and available.
If you don’t find a book group right away, stick with it. Try not to get discouraged. It may take a little while, but think of this: no one knows precisely, but estimates put the number of book club members in the U.S. somewhere around 10 million-which means you can’t throw a stick without your Golden…or a book club member-somewhere-catching it.