The psychological toll of book club

Come July, I have a book club thing with a handful of mates. I'm super excited for it, even though I generally don't do book clubs. Or movie clubs. I don't do monthly get-togethers either; seasonal kibbutzes, other regular things like that.

There's something about monthly whatever clubs that starts to feel old very quickly. At least for me. Even in that first month, with the excitement of doing something new, I still get the sense of staring down a long sentence without parole.

Of course, in reality, parole happens. People take breaks, wane in enthusiasm, fade into the background. You're never truly locked into a book club.

But I don't like dithering on commitments. It doesn't feel good. If I accept an invitation to book club, I want to be sincere about the implicit promise to be there for someone in that bookish way. And I can't. I'm picky about the media I consume, I don't want to be told what book to read next.

It's not just that, though. I get the same feeling with monthly, or weekly, dinners or lunches or movies or picnics or catchups or so-and-sos. Most of the time, I want play-dates, not play-marriages. So as soon as I hear there's a time-based ball to chain myself to, I'm out.

Perhaps it's an underlying fear of commitment fuelling my aversion. Or what if I've cultivated a pattern of avoidance through type-A perfectionistic tendencies bordering on delusions of grandeur? That's getting heavy for a blog post on book clubs, isn't it.

To date, the only thing I've given myself to with regularity is indoor football. Christians have church, geeks have conventions, I have weekend team sport. I adore the psychological toll here. But then, maybe deep down it's because I know I'm on a time limit. That there's three decades at best left in my footballing body, barring some superb science or fitness secret that could make me match-fit until I die. I stare down this sentence of week after week, and wish it were several lifetimes long.

Well then. I'm trying something different with this book club by removing the regularity. None of us are trying to read more, just have a bit of fun. If anything, this affair is a big ask because we're all avid readers taking precious time out of our regular schedule to do this together. So, as the organiser, I want to respect that by eliminating the routine, the locked-in feeling.

Just one 398-page dalliance in July because we want to. No strings attached. They don't have to call the next day or month. We're ships, passing bookishly in the night.