the guise of book club

A very wise male friend of mine once made the assertion that, and I quote, “Women all over America are getting together to drink wine under the guise of book club.” And though many valid book clubs really do exist, as in they actually read, talk and dissect a particular book each month, I have to agree with his allegation.

My book club is case in point.

Ten years ago next month was the first meeting of the book club I belong to. I know that it was ten years ago because I remember my impetus for sending out the first invite with the words “Book Club” was to honor my book-loving dad who had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. My friends and I had been throwing around the idea for a book club every time we chatted over wine. You know, those grandiose ideas that come about four hours into a party, that sound great with a buzz but too hard to follow through with in the harsh reality of daylight and a hangover.

Well the harsh reality of my dad’s diagnosis prompted my call to action. Since I had no control over his health or future, I glommed on to things I could control, like hosting a party. I picked a book, bought invitations (yes, real invitations), mailed them with stamps and the first ever, “Ladies Social Book Club” was born (I’m not sure who started calling us by that moniker but we that’s how we referred to it for many years). And over the years it has become a little more social-ish than book-ish.

That first month we met at my house, ready to discuss the first book, Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Almost all who were invited showed, and almost everyone read the book. In the invitation I specifically asked everyone to bring their favorite quote or passage to be fodder for conversation. Not one person brought a quote, BUT, hey, at least we all read the book. In fact, for the first few years of the LSBC, the rule was that we were going to talk about the ending regardless of whether or not everyone had finished reading. Sometimes women would skip book club if they had not read it, for that reason.

So though there was plenty of wine consuming, brie eating and girl chatting, we still spent a respectable amount of time talking about the book. But, in a generalized overview, I would say that wine and girl talk have always been more of a central focus than books. In fact, we’ve scared many first time attendees away with the amount of wine, brie and gossip that gets consumed when we all get together.

When some of us started having kids, the actual book reading declined rapidly. For me it came to a dead stop once my first daughter was born. I don’t think I read anything but baby books during her first year of life. Our group continued to meet, despite the several months that went by that none of us even bought the books, much less read them. We remained a tight unit thanks to the binding ties of our friends Ms. Char Donnay and Mr. Cab ‘Rnet.

Now, ten years later, there are a few of us that were at that very first meeting ten years ago, or that joined shortly thereafter, and some who have started attending more recently. What I love most about the group is that we don’t necessarily see each other much outside of our monthly “meetings.” We are an eclectic group of women, with very different personalities and interests. But we are drawn together by two of life’s most important things: wine and books (in no particular order).

Last night we gathered at the 3rd Corner in Encinitas, though we typically meet at someone’s home. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized next month will be our “10 year anniversary” (I told you guys that this year was going to be all about the 10 year thing). We laughed, some of us cried (yes, it was me), and of course, we drank. A few ladies had read the book so they discussed amongst themselves, while the rest of us chatted about Oprah’s half sister, caught up on the single gal’s recent tryst, and learned more about all-things-pap-smears thanks to the medical professionals in the group.

I love absolutely love these ladies, I love the books, and of course I love the wine. So why not pretend to be a literati so I can have my fix of girl time once a month. There’s no shame to our guise, gals.

To commemorate the last ten years of book/drink club, here are my


My Top 10 Favorite Book Club Books:

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  4. Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
  5. Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  6. Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
  7. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  8. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  9. A Widow For One Year by John Irving
  10. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


  1. 1

    I am so glad to hear that you drink your way through Book Club! I expect nothing less!

  2. 2
    Benjie says:

    I think I would like to trek on down to SD for the 10th anniversary… been a long time since I have been to book club!

    • Mary says:

      That just made my day to hear that. I was actually thinking we should have a reunion. I’ll have Celine add in some of the “former” club members. :) xoxo

  3. 3
    Elaine B. says:

    This is hilarious! My husband says the same thing about my book club. He calls it “booze club.” And he is right.

    Also, I love the list of faves. My book club has only read a couple of those so now I have new recommendations. Thanks! xoxoxo

  4. 4
    Lisa Voss says:

    Long live Ladies Social Book Club! Cheers to another 10 yrs of lots of wine, good talk and maybe an occasional book. I think I fulfilled my quota with the Hunger Games triology for the next few years.

  5. 5
    30ish Mama says:

    I think your book club sounds fabulous! Books are meant to start conversations and it sounds like The Ladies Social Book Club has had some great ones.

  6. 6
    Katie says:

    Wow, I want to be a part of your “book club” because it sounds like just my crowd! :-D


  7. 7
    Laura F says:

    I’m only about a year and 3 months in, and loving this group of diverse amazing women. Also, so glad you don’t hold me to reading the book every time! More on pap smears later….

  8. 8
    Melinda says:

    Congrats on the 10 yr thing. Our book club “Sunday Sisters” have read over 100 books and are in 12th year. When I joined ut was part of reclaiming time for me and gave me an excuse to steal away & read PLUS steal awat one Sunday afternoon a month! We talk, eat, & drink our way through & have made an overnight trek to Temecula the last 4 years. Keep it going!

  9. 9

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Burt-Godwin, Mary Burt-Godwin. Mary Burt-Godwin said: "Women all over America are getting together to drink wine under the guise of book club." –a very wise man. […]

  10. 10

    I am so impressed that your group has remained together for ten years! I’ve been a member of a couple of book clubs, but always wound up dropping out for one reason or another. I am sorry about that now.

    I love your top ten list. The Corrections is one of my all time favorites.

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