I received a Goodreads email notification today that made me stop and look twice. It came from someone with a name I did not immediately recognise, and mentioned a certain TV Celebrity Couple’s reading group. I hovered the cursor over it and read carefully. Once. Twice. Did I know anyone with that handle? Maybe. I would not pretend to know the names of all my social contacts. And then there was the TVCC thing. Mystery. OK, I thought to myself. Let’s see what this is.
An invitation to join the reading club.
Structured social interaction.
Heck. As a matter of fact, that might be exactly what I need right now. Why do I automatically interpose a battalion of questions…? Of reasons? Excuses?
Why wouldn’t I join a reading group, and actually participate, instead of all that always-in-the-background, almost voyeuristic thing I end up doing because I do not have the — whatever it is I don’t have to actually engage with a group?
Of course, it didn’t help all my usual excuses that I also got an email from an indie author, round about the same time yesterday, talking about how writers lead the life of a hermit crab. Right now, I do wish I had the life of a hermit crab. The life I used to have, of sweet aloneness with only my cats for silent company, dispensing me just the right amount of love and encouragement to keep me going all day long. I could write then. Write, read, redo the blog, read some more, fuss the cats a little, write some more.
Then Phil would come home, and we’d have dinner together and curl up together on the sofa, talking our days away, discussing politics — lately, mostly angst over Brexit and what it’ll do to us — watching a movie. Being a couple and doing what couples do on weeknights. It was a blessed life, and I’ve always known it, despite how much I complained about next door dogs, the other next door’s permanent arguments, the council gardeners hour-indiscriminate petrol lawn mower, or the motorcycle boy racing around the country lanes.
Now, I don’t have any of those luxuries. And my isolation has never been so complete. Not just because I’m cut off from all, but because taking care of someone with such complex health problems is devastatingly difficult and exhausting, both physically and psychologically.
What I need (probably) are people. People to interact with, about something that’ll take my mind off the quotidian as it is at the moment. Something that I love. People I can call, minimally and by a [social network type] stretch of the word’s definition and anybody’s imagination, ‘friends‘. People to ‘talk’ with, and do stuff other than… what’s burdening me so at the moment, and which I’m finding so hard to cope with. The local amateur dramatic society would be great if only they’d have me, but I guess an online reading group might do the trick too. No harm in trying, is there?
Joining the group came with a challenge. Being far too honest for my own good, and because I am also far too greedy where books are concerned, I took up a challenge of 10 new books. That’s on top of my usual GoodReads 52 books yearly challenge. And my NetGalley 52 books challenge. And then there’s all the ‘indies’ relying on me as a beta… and of course reviewer. Mad? Only slightly.
Now I have to peruse the book club’s past and present reading lists and find ten books I fancy spending my time with. It’s not going to be difficult. I’ve already seen two or three that happen to belong to my tsundoku loot. I’m sure there’ll be another seven or eight to be found. You see, there’s method in this addictive madness of mine: if I manage to do the challenge, there’s another ten books I’m striking off my TBR. Just think. My TBR will be ten books lighter… And I’ll have been ten more books blissful.
See…? Madness, method. I’ve joined the group. That was always a given. I’ve taken the challenge. A given too, since it involved books. I’ll let you know the book list as soon as it is final. So, all that is needed now is that you wish me good luck. See you soon