For the past thirty years, I've been involved in several (mostly female member) book clubs. Sure, its a cliche, and we don't spend all our time talking about books, so the title of the gathering may be a misleading misnomer. Essentially, it's a regularly recurring semi-ritualistic female social gathering, which may or may not include references to books, but definitely includes delicious food, wine, gossip, chit-chat, and camaraderie. Previous generations have called these sort of gatherings knitting or sewing circles, Bible study groups, bridge/canasta/mah jong/bunco parties, feminist consciousness raising and bra burning groups, or the Joy Luck Club. Once, looking around the gathering of friends at my table (we rotate who hosts), I realized that what brought all of us together, how we knew each other, stems from the fact that we are all the mothers of sons. It's not just that we are trying to improve our minds in this setting, it's really that we are devoid of female companionship. The books part is just an excuse. In recent years, I have belonged to a "serious" book club, and a "social" one. I have to say - and my entire career involves all aspects of literature: reading, writing about it, teaching it, so you know I love it - I enjoy the "social" club more.