One of the gatherings in my life that has consistently provided great joy – for nine years – is my book club. Part of why it works of course is the people, a group of 12 women who not only read books together, but bring families food during cancer treatments, support each other through funerals and weddings, sick kids and high moments in our careers.
In talking with Priya Parker, the author of “The Art of Gathering” for this week’s show, I understand even better why this group works. Parker says it’s key to have a purpose and rules. We have a purpose – we do really read the book and discuss it. But we also drink wine and have fun (in our bookish way – if someone says Man Booker, you have to drink). And we also have rules. We meet once a month at someone’s house—the host is also the discussion leader. In December, during one long and exuberant meeting, we choose all 11 books for the coming year. Each person brings a few to pitch, and one of our members who is a marketing expert takes notes on our reaction to each book – she can put them in order of our excitement.
At a recent meeting, one member had been with a dying relative all day. She sent us all a message later – “Just wanted to tell you how much it meant to be able to walk into that room and know you were all there.” To be able to talk with these friends about life and books is what living is all about.
May your gatherings be fun and purposeful, too.