A few weeks into last semester I made an inexplicable decision. I couldn’t tell you why – whether it was because of boredom, or some messed up compulsive sense of duty, or some deeply-felt unconscious need for knowledge and attention, but – I read one of the weekly society update email things. Specifically the Saints LGBT+ one, because it said ‘slay!’ in the subject box. Whatever force it was compelled me to read to the bottom of the email, and I saw there the fateful words ‘Book Club News!’. Whuh!? There was a Saints LGBT+ Book Club? There is now.
I like telling people what I think about books, and am willing to endure their opinions on books to get a chance to do so. Furthermore, these would be gay books! I immediately joined the Discord server (link at the end of this article just saying) and rushed through the book of the month, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. Then, excitedly navigating through the slightly weird layout of the Chaplaincy to the Lounge, I was assaulted with tea and biscuits and spent a great hour-and-a-bit (because it’s just so good that it always overruns) saying stupid fun stuff about books with zero pressure or sense of needing to stay on topic. This platonic ideal of a book club experience continued monthly for the rest of the semester, with only one minor issue: an average attendance of 3.6 recurring, including me, and Sydney and Martin who founded the book club. No matter! In the last meeting before the holiday I resolved to become a shameless advertisement and propagandise all my friends who might be interested into coming – and also to write this.
Unfortunately, in a combination of me being way too embarrassed about saying ‘oh yeah, do you remember that book club thing I told you about’ and people just not being able to make it, on the first session back we were down to just me and Sydney. Obviously, it was still a lot of fun. We had a great book to talk about with a million things going on in it, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and chatted away happily about its world and the ways of living and constructing society in it, and how those are affected by and built around the fact that the people living in it are all androgynous – and then what’s going on with that and its ideas about gender and all the things that were so unique and radical about it in 1969, but also what feels dated like the stuff about gender roles and sexuality but how all of it is still really creative and interesting… and so on and so forth yada yada yada. But the tea and biscuits got a little lonely, and I felt sad for them.
So pleeease come! I feel like I can’t get across to you fully in words how cool and fun and relaxed it is. There’s no pressure! There aren’t very many of us anyway, the books are always chill and fun things you can read to relax, and the meetings are just a time to say whatever you think about them, even if you’ve barely read them or you’re just there for the snacks and the atmosphere. If you’re intimidated or you feel sort of anxious talking about books – it’s fine! This is a casual chat, not a seminar, so everyone just wants to hear what you think, and actually, as an English student, I’ve found that even if you open your mouth and say the first thing that comes into your head, and it sounds incredibly stupid as you’re saying it, there’s always something interesting somewhere in there (not that you’re required to be interesting though). And it’s just fun to read something you otherwise might not read and talk about it with fun people who’ve also read it. It just feels good.
Now that I’ve (inevitably) convinced you of the many virtues of the book club: the next session is quite soonish, on the 4th of February, but we’re just talking about queer poetry – from Mary Jean Chan and Andrew McMillan’s 100 Queer Poems collection, or also any other poem you might want to talk about – so it’s even easier than reading a whole book and you can talk about whatever poem interests you. What are you waiting for? Join the Discord and just give it a go and come along. I promise you’ll love it.
other erin (she/her)
P.S. Discord link for you to click on: https://discord.gg/WdyKUmDx8a