the name is actually rather misleading...
Since its foundation in 1997 the book club has religiously convened once a month (I have so far only missed a single session when it coincided with my grandfather's funeral) and I have been the official chronicler and "mamarazza" of our gatherings. I'm also the self-appointed webmistress of a poky little website. I challenge you to find it, good luck googling!
We take turns hosting the event and our culinary skills have considerably devoloped since the inaugural meeting when only humble apple strudel was served. These days, a three-course meal followed by abundant quantities of crisps and chocolate is obligatory.
We've also been on wonderfully girly away-weekends together and made the odd group-excursion to the cinema to see adaptations of books we've read and erm..."discussed".
As I said, the name's rather misleading as I'm usually the only one who has read the whole book of the month, thanks to my adrenaline-free office environment and we only discuss the book for 5 minutes max before we get down to more serious topics ranging from cellulite to sex toys. Girls, they have one-track minds, let me tell you. Very occasionally (as in: every meeting) men in general and our partners in particular also crop up in conversation.
When the book club was founded we all lived in Vienna, most of us were still at university and none of its seven female members was married or had (even thought about ever having) a child. Now, 3 are married, there are 5 children and a sixth will soon be born. The roles of several significant others have been filled with new candidates in the course of those almost 9 years and we've discovered things about each other that we would never have suspected. I've in fact been one of the few "stationary" members (never mind unmarried and childless) as one of us has since moved to the U.S., one to the less exotic and faraway town of Villach, one has just returned from 2 years in Berlin and another one temporarily lives in London.
Much to the dismay of the childless faction there were times when our little club was in danger of becoming a "mum-of-the-month-club" but digressions to the realm of breastfeeding and teething aside we're just as childish and bitchy in our thirties as we were in our twenties. Another downside of motherhood is that the avility of babysitters pretty much dominates our search for a date and that the (working) mums never have time to read the books anyway. Needless to say, we hardly ever get to see our exiled members and we're overjoyed if we can at least get the Vienna base together. At Christmas and/or Easter, when our American outpost is back the glorious 7 are usually complete again.
We take turns suggesting the book (usually a novel) which has to be in English not only did we all graduate in English literature but we almost exclusively read books written in English. Whoever wants to suggest a book does.
B1: Married to an American who tried living in Austria but then got homesick and put his Harvard-connections to better use in Washington. They have a child and are (rather desperately) trying for a second one. B1 teaches German at a high school. Altough she's not American herself, she actually really looks the part. Really.
B2: Lives in Villach and works at Klagenfurt airport. Some years ago, B2 got dumped rather brutally by her boyfriend of - like, centuries - who is now trying to get her back, undeterred by the minor detail that she lives together with someone else. B2 and I are the only ones who have visited B1 in her idyllic suburbian home beyond the Big Pond.
S2: As a member of the English dept. of our common Alma Mater, the University of Vienna, she's our willing supplier of behind-the-scenes academic scandal. Speaking of which, it took her 3 years to tell us what we had been suspecting all along, that she left her childhood-sweetheart for her academic supervisor who's 40 years her senior. She's currently doing research for her postdoctoral lecture qualification in London, her field being postcolonial literature ("poco", for the initiated).
K: Our only non-Austrian member. She's German and loves all things Chinese, having repeatedly travelled to remote parts of China. Inexplicably, she's not interested in retail therapy at all and in general is our "serious" one. After two not-so-happy years in Berlin where her boyfriend lives (he just found a job in Vienna) she recently returned to Vienna. She's working in journalism/tourism at the moment.
At the beginning, I only knew Amica really well and the others only from sight as you know fellow students in an overcrowded department. Over the years, all of them have become really good friends. It was in fact B2 with whom I circled the Wörthersee on Sunday.
We all find it hilarious and can hardly stifle a giggle when people are terribly impressed when we mention that we're in a book club, thinking we're dead serious bookworms when if fact we're more like Carrie and friends, minus the glamourous shoes. And the rich boyfriends.
Lunch-break purchases: None. I can do it.
Yesterday, on my way back to the office, an American tourist approached me, map in hand, saying "I wanno go where the shops are". She definitely stopped the right person, didn't she? Do I have "shopaholic" tatooed on my forehead, I wonder?