Our book club, Armchair Adventurers kicked off in Sedgefield in 2009. It was initiated by two ladies Sandy and Chris who had been unable to find a place in any existing book clubs because they already had the maximum number of members. Another one they tried out, (as their story goes) turned out to be a bit strange!
Resolving to start their own, in no time flat they found another 9 members, a number came from our existing walking group, the Sedgefield Walkie Talkies. It was decided that 11 was ideal – a hostess for every month of the year except December.
This is how it was run and it hasn’t really changed much since. Every member was allocated a month. The month they hosted the club for afternoon tea, they also got to spend the money and choose the books for that month. The contribution was R60-00 per person per month and hasn’t changed.
To begin with, each member brought along a few of their own recommended books to provide a choice of books. We registered with Wordsworth Books as a book club to receive a good discount.
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of councellors and the most patient of teachers." - Charles William Elst
The person who hosts the afternoon gets first choice of a book on the table and then we go down the list. It works out that everyone then gets a turn to go first throughout the year. We do this twice and then it’s a free for all.
Each year when a person’s turn comes round again they take back their books purchased the previous year. They then keep them or perhaps dispose of them to benefit organisations like Hospice or Animal Welfare.
We keep an electronic record of all books purchased by number, title and author so that, over time, we don’t end up duplicating books. We have a fun time that frequently provokes much laughter as each member shares reviews of the books they've read over the past month.
A removable sticker is placed in the front of each book that has a list of all the members on it, so next to our names we can rate the book on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the least liked and 10 being highly recommended. Then there is DNF – did not finish. We all have experienced at least one of those!
The delicious teas the host of the month provides are an integral part of the gathering. In December we put our book money towards a Christmas lunch or dinner and choose a restaurant to eat out at. We take our finished books along to exchange them for fresh holiday reading from the great number of existing books that now fill two suitcases.
We’ve all enjoyed being exposed to different types of books and discovering new authors we might not have individually chosen but were encouraged to read from reviews given. The camaraderie of book lovers has made friends of us all. Sandy has since gone to Australia to be close to family and Chris with a new man in her life, left recently for the UK.
They both have left a thriving legacy. We now have 12 members so the last person to host on the membership list begins hosting in the new year and so each year we move down a month for hosting purposes. A vacancy is quickly snapped up and the new member slips effortlessly into our welcoming group of ladies.