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Two of My Favorite Things: Connecting with Friends & Reading Books

On the third Tuesday of each month, the Prime Time for Women Book Club meets from 5-7 pm at a local restaurant to discuss a book and connect over a meal. I was delighted to find this group upon moving to Hagerstown in November of 2022 because I’m an avid reader who was looking for social connections with other women. Currently, there are 15 members who take turns choosing a book, picking a restaurant, and facilitating the discussion. Annually, in December, the book list for next year and who will facilitate each month’s discussion is determined.  Members are encouraged to take a turn leading, but it is not required. 

In May of 2023, the book club met at Cafe del Sol for a lovely evening of lively conversation, enjoying time spent with friends and a delicious meal.  I had the chance to lead a discussion of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, which is the sequel to her book, Eat Love Pray

We started our discussion with introductions and an icebreaker question. You’ve probably heard Prime Time for Women’s tagline, “Be seen. Be heard. Inspire”. Therefore, I asked each member to share something she did recently that made her feel proud. I was interested in the variety of responses, some of which included the following: (1) I learned to cook new recipes to support my spouse’s health; (2) I cleaned out several closets; (3) I’ve had great success on my weight loss journey this year; and (4) I’m embarking on a new exercise routine with a local gym. This icebreaker did exactly what I hoped it would…it provided a glimpse into each other’s lives, allowed us to celebrate our small successes together, and in the process connected us beyond just the books we read. 

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage tells the story of the author Gilbert falling in love with Felipe, a Brazilian-born man of Australian citizenship, whom she met in Bali. After resettling in the United States (US), the couple professed their love for each other but swore to never get married again, having both experienced previous bitter divorces. However, after a time of travel between the US and various other countries, the US government tells the couple they must get married or Felipe can’t continue to enter the US. Gilbert wrote this book to try to tackle her fears of marriage by exploring the topic through historical research, interviews, and personal reflection on the meaning of the institution. At the end of the book, the couple decides to marry. 

While we waited for our meal, we discussed the research and interviews the author conducted to shed light on the historic and cultural aspects of marriage. After learning that the author’s marriage ended in divorce six years later,  the majority of our discussion was spent sharing personal thoughts on and experiences with marriage. It’s one of the things I like best about Prime Time for Women’s Book Club… members are willing to be vulnerable and share personal stories as well as their opinions about a particular book.  As one member says, “PTFW Book Club is where our real lives intersect with the lives of those we read about.” It was a rich and interesting discussion that enabled me to see the many ways marriage is viewed throughout the world, simplistic and practical for some and complicated and irrational for others. For me, having the opportunity to talk about the book with other women gave me a better understanding of a situation in my own family. I realized marriage is not a “one size fits all” institution…lesson learned!. 

So far, I have attended four meetings of the Prime Time for Women Book Club. I look forward to continuing to expand my reading horizons and connecting with other women. I have enjoyed trying new restaurants and making new friends. I especially like that these friendships have expanded to pursuing other activities beyond book club meetings.

For more information about future meetings, visit the website: https://primetimeforwomen.org/get-involved/book-club/ or contact us: https://primetimeforwomen.org/contact/ 

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