I have an affinity for nerds. Not just any nerds, though. I want nothing to do with that painfully awkward geek squad on Big Bang Theory.
The nerds I’m drawn to are a special breed: book nerds. The type who quasi-stalk their favorite authors on Twitter; the type who’ll readily debate whether digital books are blasphemous; the type that’ll tell you how delicious bookstores smell.
Being bookish has always been part of who I am. I love finding a story that makes me forget my own life for an hour. I love discovering characters I care so much about that I just have to read one more page.
But to me, the best thing about reading is when it becomes social. When you find a quiet corner in the back of a dimly lit restaurant, order a bottle of wine, and chat with your gal pals about what an ass that one character was, that time you had a boss just like her, and the trouble with male writers developing bitchy female characters. Or whatever.
I’ve found that book clubs attract a certain type of person: bookish and nerdy, but also chatty and social. It’s a weird and fantastic combo that lends itself to amazingly deep, philosophical discussions that might just morph into the group debating the merits and mechanics of swingers parties (true story!) or someone spilling her guts about a personal experience the book made her relive.
Not coincidentally, 2015 was the year Sarah and I both joined book clubs (again). Reading for pleasure just fell off my radar when I had babies in the house. Getting that back was HUGE on my list of ways to prioritize myself.
For the first time since college, I read more than a dozen books in 2015. Some I loved; some left me scratching my head; and some changed me. Top on that last list is Still Alice. You may have heard of it since it was adapted into a movie starring Julianne Moore last year.
Actually, I saw the movie with a bookclub friend before suggesting we all read the book. I was just haunted by the story of the brilliant Columbia professor who slowly loses her career, her memories, and her knowledge of her own family to early-onset Alzheimer’s.
It was so powerful, I actually couldn’t sleep after seeing the movie! (The jasmine tea might not have helped…)
I kept thinking about how we all believe we have so much more time. More time to be with our families. More time for personal accomplishments. More time for the little pleasures of life. But things don’t always go as we envisioned, which I learned early on in life.
As a child, my family was in a terrible car accident that shaped my view of the temporality of life in ways I can’t even explain and have never written about. What was supposed to be a fun ride to the airport before my first trip to Disney turned into a nightmare that started with waking up from a concussion on the side of the highway, covered in blood, and seeing my family laid out around me.
My eight-year-old self instantly understood that life is fragile. You just never know. Still Alice spoke to this sensibility in a gripping, carpe diem way.
If you haven’t read Still Alice, you’re missing out!
Are you a part of a bookclub, or do you prefer to read alone? Do you have any books changed you? I’m always looking for recommendations!