LitClub:  Dusty Book Jacket Society
London, Ontario, Canada

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BUNNY EARS and BOAS aside, they really do read. The Dusty Book Jacket Society takes its books seriously...even when everyone's laughing.

It's NOT The Dust Bunnies, right...despite the photo?
No, we're the Dusty Book Jacket Society. We're celebrating our founder's birthday in the photo.

Neat name—what's the story behind it?

It's s a nod to digital tablets. As more and more of us download our reading material, the image of books languishing on the shelf, getting dustier and dustier, was humorous to us.

The name also reflects the fact that we don't take ourselves too seriously. After all, when you refer to your book club as the "dusty BJ's," life can't be too void of colour!

What's your story?
Our founding member posted a note on Facebook, looking for like-minded women to start a book club. The interest was overwhelming, so invitations had to be limited to the first ten responses.

We were largely strangers at first, coming together based on our love of books—each of us connected to only one or two others. We've been meeting every month since 2013 and haven't looked back.

How many members now?
We lost a few members due to change in personal circumstances, but we decided to limit the group to 8 because we blended so well.

Tell us what you've been reading lately.
Here's what we've been reading over the past year:

Book of Negroes
Book Thief
Gone Girl
Looking for Me
Love Goddess Cooking School
Simple Way of Ruthie Leming
Empty Mansions
Angry Housewives Eating Bon
Call the Midwife
Light Between Oceans
Above All Things
Painted Girls

Any favorites?
We all agree Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons was our favourite. As our inaugural book in 2013, its focus on female friendships and what it meant to belong to a book club set the tone for the club we would become. Similar to the characters in the book, most of us started off as strangers or acquaintances but with each book we read, our relationships deepened into genuine friendships that now continue outside of meetings.

This book also gave us the idea to link food served at meetings to the book being discussed. It's a great way to add interesting perspective to what we read, and it also allows us to showcase our culinary creativity.

What about books that led to particularly good discussions?
All the books read have been a platform we used to explore our lives from a different perspective. Since we don't stick to one genre, the depth of our discussions can vary month to month and be driven by the theme of the book we are reading. Our best discussions include personal accounts, real reflection and honest moments with lots of laughter and lighthearted teasing injected into it.

For fiction work, Divergent allowed for wonderful discussion on what it meant to be cast into one role in society. We used the questionnaire in the back of the book to come prepared to talk to whether or not you agreed with what it labeled you as your "faction." Another fiction book, Painted Girls, had us look at what the cost could be to seek to improve your circumstances in life, especially at a young age.

Good discussion come from non-fiction works as well. For example, The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah was a very real look at the tragic plight many young women in society face today and the culture clash that occurs between generations. Our discussion on this book included very intelligent thoughts on the scary steps the author had to take to escape her family as well as how patriarchal and religious oppression in the book influenced mob mentality.

Where do you hold your meetings?
We rotate homes the second Tuesday of every month with each member taking their turn. The host for the month chooses the book, food theme and provides beverages. The next month's host unveils her reading selection at the end of the discussion during the previous months meeting. It's a highly anticipated moment; often tablets are whipped out and books downloaded for immediate reading pleasure.

How do you choose your books?
Each book is a personal choice of whoever is hosting. Inspiration comes from a variety of sources, including reading selection websites, book reviews, friends and family recommendations, and book-cover synopses which sound appealing.

Any rules?
Overall our group is relaxed about the structure and no real rules apply. Fun, friendship and food, along with a willingness to read outside of one's comfort zone, are the only requirements we expect of each other.

What about special activities during the meetings.
We use food to highlight the book in some way. Each member brings a dish or snack to reflect the theme the host has laid out. For example, we had great fun matching diner dishes to The Supremes at Earls All-You-Can-Eat, Christmas dinner elements to Mary Kay Andrews' Christmas Bliss, and Italian inspired cuisine to The Love Goddess Cooking School.

Additionally, we have months where the host has contacted the author of the book we are reading to get inside thoughts on his/her book. Having the author in question take time to respond to the email and provide further insights is thrilling and a welcomed addition to the discussion.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about the Dusty Book Jacket Society?
There isn't a meeting that doesn't go by without moments of laughing so hard together we have to wipe tears from our eyes. It's rare we host meetings outdoors for fear of breaking a noise bylaw.

Overall, how would you describe your club?
Happy people having FUN! At our core, we are an interesting group of women who have a genuine love for each other. We celebrate our differences, look for ways to laugh together and act as each others cheerleaders in times of need. It's a true society.

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