I belong to the most special book club in the history of reading. I know there are others who think that their book club deserves that praise, but it doesn't. Mine does. You see, in the midst of the talking and the laughing and the crying (mainly it's me crying), something magical has unfolded. We've learned to share not just our opinions about literature but also our very selves . We reached inside of ourselves and offered it up to those listening. And then we received one another with grace, respect and affirmation. So our book club is about the books we read, sort of. For me, it's mainly about a journey of friendship and closeness that has emerged through our shared love of reading, or at least our shared love of talking!
Why do I think my book club is so special? For starters, the majority of us are Americans living in Sweden for a variety of reasons. Some have Swedish spouses, some have husbands who were transferred here, some have jobs, some are moms, some are retired. But in any case, we are all living across the pond and that shapes and informs our perspective. The unspoken thread that binds us all together is the fact that we are all living in Sweden. And that thread has invited us to know one another in ways that other contexts might have hindered. In spite of our many differences (and honestly, no two are that much alike in this crowd!) we do share a deep down inside similarity...we live in Sweden, for better or worse, and we're happy to know other American women who do the same. But beyond this obvious connection, my book club buddies are the women who saw me through the worst year of my life. They brought flowers and food when I had hand surgery. They sent flowers to my parents in California when my brother died. They brought food to my husband in Stockholm while I spent weeks in California caring for my parents last summer. They journeyed beside me through emails I sent as I sought to sort through the devastation that a cancer diagnosis heaps upon a family. They know that weird things make me cry and they are OK with that. They let me wax theologically as we extrapolate the inner meanings of a writer's intentions. They love some of my book choices and they hate others and they love me at the end of either discussion. And I love them. These 13 women who have graced my life first by urging me to read stuff I wouldn't necessarily pick off the shelf, and then by sharing what they think and finally, amazingly, listening to what I think. I feel totally embraced by this crowd. For one night each month I know we're going to enter one another's world and take a peak at what lurks inside of us. And those glimpses that we allow one another one night a month allow us to support one another for the other 364 days a year.