Back in October, three months after our move, I was breaking down—truly depressed. I remember laying in bed one night, crying to my husband about how isolated I felt and questioning whether moving across the country had really been the best idea after all. I was feeling completely defeated after months of trying to make new friends by insert myself into other people’s already full social lives and attending mom group meet-ups during which I was barely able to form a sentence, never mind a friendship, while I chased my kids around a park or a playground.
It started to feel like I was never going to make friends; I just didn’t fit in, and that was all there was to it.
A friend who’d made a similar move across the country to an entirely new place as a stay-at-home mom suggested that I start looking for friends with similar interests in a more adult setting. She told me about how she’d made fast friends at regular Bunco nights, and a lightbulb went on in my head: what I needed was a book club.
Now, before you start rolling your eyes, just stay with me for a minute.
After searching through the local book club listings on Meetup.com, I decided to start my own book club with just a couple of rules:
- It was a book club for moms only, for two reasons:
- First, I learned in an all-girls college that removing men from the discussion really changed the dynamic, for the best, in my opinion.
- Second, moms tend to be more forgiving of last-minute scheduling changes, interruptions, and those of us who almost finished the book.
- We would avoid books that were just unmanageably long (i.e. we’d be leaving War and Peace to the singles and retirement crowd).
Since the group was formed, I’ve come to realize that starting a book club, in particular, was the absolute smartest thing I could’ve done to make friends in my new city, and here’s why:
Kids aren’t allowed.
As much as we all love our kids, they do make it kind of impossible to build new friendships. I figure watching my girls takes up at least 80% of my brainpower at any given time, leaving only 20% for trying to introduce myself, ask questions, or at the very least, be polite. I know now that I need to fly solo if I’m hoping to build something special.
The books get you talking.
This is perhaps the most important point. Unlike any other form of social engagement (regular old MNOs, Bunco nights, etc.), book club meetings provide members with a whole dialogue in which to engage. The books we’ve read so far have had us going on marital infidelity and trust; the human psyche as shaped by environment; feminism in our homes and in the workplace…
We always start by talking about the book, but naturally, we pull from personal experience. And sharing personal experiences on topics this deep right up front helps you get to know people at a level that might ordinarily take much longer.
Book clubs meet regularly.
I decided it was realistic for my mom-centric book club to gather once a month. We set the date, time, and location well in advance, and the meeting is happening whether one of us attends or not, including me. It’s not like making tentative plans with a girlfriend and having to reschedule and reschedule. The book club meeting is set in stone, so you’re more motivated to just make it work.
You’ll probably find your peers.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but setting up a book club aimed at moms drew together a group of like-minded women. Most of us have young children, we have similar education levels, we all have an interest in reading and gabbing (obviously), and we were all hoping to meet new people and build friendships, most importantly.
But what if you’re not a “reader,” you may be asking yourself? You probably are a reader, in some way. What about a book club devoted to self-help books, or religious texts, or even gossip magazines? Can you imagine how popular and fantastically fun a “book club” for readers of gossip magazines could be??
Plus, there’s a bonus.
Aside from the social aspect, being in a book club does provide just enough peer pressure to encourage you to actually read the book (or at least skim it—we all do our best!). And everyone knows how good reading is for your brain. Plus, on the off chance that you find yourself at a cocktail party (haha!), you’ll have something interesting to talk about.
So there it is: why you simply must start a book club if you’re hoping to make new mom friends.
P.S. I was in no way compensated by Meetup.com to write this post. It was just a strategy that worked for me!