“Sewing Circles and Book Clubs”

sewingcircle

Women love to sit around and talk and seem to need an excuse to do so. Sewing circles managed to combine the occasion to talk with a “productive” activity. Just getting together once a week to chat seemed frivolous. My mother belonged to such a group, but it was honestly named “stitch and bitch!” Sewing in a group has gone out of fashion for most contemporary women.

Fortunately we have come up with an equally satisfactory substitute: the book group. Book groups seem to fall into two categories and people complain when they drop into the wrong type by mistake. My church book group fits the type of book club where the discussion is all about the books. People seem uninterested in knowing each other and would feel annoyed by any personal sharing unless it was very clearly “about the book.” I attended it hoping to make new friends and quickly found that was not the place to do so.

The other kind of book club uses the book as an opportunity to get together. In these meetings some people haven’t even finished the book. Rather than being shunned, they are welcomed in for the real purpose of the get-together: schmoozing. A reader coming for a deep literary discussion leaves with the complaint “they never even discussed the book!”

We used to live around the corner from a working man’s (yes only men were ever there) tavern called appropriately “Home Tavern.” Every early evening men sat around drinking cheap beer, smoking cigarettes and talking. I have no idea what they were talking about, though I am sure it wasn’t books. Sadly as the neighborhood gradually gentrified it became a “pub” with expensive beers and women. A welcoming place for men disappeared.

We all need reasons to get together. I wonder if all those people sitting alone in coffee shops looking at their own phones know that.

 

29 thoughts on ““Sewing Circles and Book Clubs”

  1. We all need reasons to get together, indeed… The book club I belong to falls into the discuss the book, but also the lively discussions about our lives!

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  2. I totally agree with you Elizabeth. It seems to be an anathema to talk of women’s, or men’s, specific functions or needs nowadays and such talk is classed as sexist.
    Surely we have to acknowledge our differences and our specific needs so I have no difficulty with ladies’ clubs, or men’s clubs.

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        1. We don’t have porches as a rule. There are few basements under houses to allow for raised porches, as they have solid foundations. So we just sit outside in the garden. 🙂

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  3. I used to talk nonsense with other men in pubs at one time. It was mostly about women. Types we preferred, how we were getting on with the one we were with, and so on. Some men talked about sport, but not my group. That was a time when the women sat at tables and gossiped, and the men stood at the bar. That seemed to end in the late seventies, at least in my social circles. Mainly because we started to ‘entertain’ at home. Then everyone sat around the dinner table, drinking wine and talking about house prices, changing jobs, and good districts to live in.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. We definitely need these groups. I actually feel sorrier for the men, because after the Pub changed, they really haven’t found something else. That is sad. Women have moved from sewing groups to book clubs, and quilting groups are popular. Women seem to find it easier to make new friends and venture out. I wish men could be that way, too.

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    1. I think men tend to be more opinionated, and less tolerant of other men as they get older. I don’t find it easy to make friends since I retired. I can’t be bothered to pretend to like people who have very different views and life experience to my own. Even though I am aware of that, I seem to be unable to overcome it. The other aspect in England is ‘class’. People will judge you by your accent, and physical appearance. Many people I have met in Norfolk have expressed surprise that I write stories that are popular. Their eyebrows raise, and you can see they are thinking ‘Writer? You?’ 🙂

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      1. You sound exactly like my husband, and I’m guessing most men past 60. I get it. I have stopped bugging him about calling his buddies to get together. And he seems to be quite opinionated as the years go on. Julie would nod her head and smile. She would totally understand.

        There is still the ‘class’ element here, too. The south is a good example. I know how these people in what we southerners call ‘the back woods’ talk, and if I talked like that I’m not sure what people would think. It would be either funny or a total turn off.

        But, what you are saying is far more subtle and deeply important. The slightest accent in Norfolk, and they’re thinking how are you a writer? Hmm… that’s tough. Well, no wonder you feel the way you do. At least you know that Steve feels the same way. There’s one. 🙂 Best to you, Pete.

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  5. I’ve never been in a book club but know plenty of women who have. When I was working downtown some women would gather in a conference room to do knitting and crafting. I never did that either. I’d rather join a group for coffee or lunch, but the idea is the same, visiting and camaraderie.

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  6. Gatherings are so necessary! I belong to a book club but my participation has been hit-or-miss over the last 6 months. Still, anytime I meet with the group I am glad. The time we spend together eating home-cooked meals or having Chinese cuisine delivered as we talk, laugh, and debate warmly, thoughtfully, and loudly – I think it is good for all of our souls. We DO discuss the books but our conversations always branch out well beyond the literary. Thank goodness we have a designated recorder who records everything in a “Book club journal” – with room for everything from the food menu on the date of the meeting, to how we judge the the book’s content, pace, writing style, character development, and other elements.

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