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Career

Why Kiwi women are flocking to join book clubs - and why you'll want to join one too

Hint: it's not really about books.

By Debbie Harrison
Sleep better. Eat well. Move more. Join a book club. Sure, that last one doesn't feature on the list of most popular New Year's resolutions but I reckon if you whack it onto your list of ways to improve your wellbeing in 2019, you won't regret it.
Hi, my name's Debbie and I'm a Book Clubber. I know what you're thinking – a bunch of bored housewives wearing serious clothing in muted tones, furiously debating the difference between commas and Oxford commas, and waxing lyrical about Hemingway's foresight. Maybe some book clubs are like this – and keep rocking that, if that's you and you love it – but our vibe is less literature and more ladies' lunch.
Think 12 women, prodigious food platters, bottles of bubbly and sparkling water, and enough chatter and laughter to keep the host's family awake well past their bedtime (soz!).
A friend took it upon herself to start our club, picking women from different walks of her life to be a part of it. She was inspired to set up her chapter (yes, book pun) by a photo of her sister's book club on holiday, wearing matching kaftans in Byron Bay – and that sums up what book club is about. Clue: it's not the books.
Yes, at book club you read books; sure, you talk about what you read, discussing narratives and deeper messages and how it may have related to your life; but the real reason you get together once a month and actually look forward to it? The company and the conversation.
Those few hours, scheduled in come hell or high water, where you can relax and chat, drink wine and scoff snacks, and get to know a bunch of awesome women. In our group we've got teachers, midwives, business owners, mums and high-flying execs – but at book club no-one cares what you do. It's more about what you have to say.
I don't know what it is about book club (okay, maybe it's the wine) but it doesn't take long for the group to hunker down and share more about themselves than you get from work or school pick-up chatter.
In the past 11 months, our book club has included vulnerable discussions about anxiety and depression, dysfunctional families, marriage and parenting tips, work grumbles, raw childhood stories and – before it sounds like some hideously maudlin meet – some other rip-roaring topics I can't bring up here, but which have been very educational (and hilarious and NSFW*) indeed.
It's a proven fact (by someone, somewhere) that hanging out with people different to you is good for you.
It improves your self-awareness and acceptance of others; it makes you think critically about what you thought you knew; it gives you new perspective;
it adds stimulation to your life. But it's not always easy to forge new friendships.
As it is, it can be just as hard to find the time to nurture your existing ones – with the busyness of life, date nights with your girlfriends can quickly become a casualty. Before you know it, it's been six months since you caught up and suddenly the only news you've kept up with has come from their Instagram feed.
Enter book club and its monthly meeting.
Carve out some time for yourself in 2019. Schedule in regular catch-ups with other women who challenge, stimulate and encourage you. Start a book club. You won't regret it. Just remember: it's not all about the books.
*Tech-speak for 'not safe for work'.

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