Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Groups R me

 I just plain love reading books. Always have. Always will.  And I just plain love book groups, too.
When I first learned to use the computer, Deege, my daughter, (she was still Debby then) sent me a clipping from the LATimes, about a woman,whose husband was retiring, and they were moving to a new community. The woman knew no one. The article didn't exactly say that the new place of residence was the husband's choice, not hers, but I got the feeling. In her loneliness, she had gone to her computer and found friends all over the world.

She found them through AOL, of all places. AOL was America On Line, in 1983, a free-standing entity and not AOL/Time/Warner. That merger, in 2000 and then the un-merger, this year, has changed the lives of not only its vast numbers of employees and users, but of my GGOBIT book group who met each other there.

AOL had all kinds of ways to meet people. Chat rooms got a bad name for themselves with the inane conversation of teen agers, but to special interest groups there was a path, by which you could narrow down your search. There was AOL Seniornet, with sub-sections. One of those was Arts and Leisure, and there you could refine your search to Book Discussions and Reviews.

That was the birthplace of GGOBIT, Greatest Global Online Bookclub in town.

For years, we were GChap or GoGrandma or  Jenco or Shirlsbt. It mattered not what we looked like, for very few of us had ever met face to face, or what our politics or religion, or where we worked, (or had worked), where we had gone to school, where in the real world we lived.

There were a few clues: when Jo in ABQ became Jo in Tx, we figured that out. GinnySF was kind of obvious. Over the years, we became real friends.

We talked of other things, cabbages and kings, birkies (a shoe choice of many), beans (a disgestive problem for some) but mostly books.

We panicked when we saw the first AOL move. They were eliminating Seniornet forums and sending us to Seniornet.org which wasn't the same thing at all.

We tried to change the course of history. If they had listened to us, the whole Time Warner fiasco might never have happened. We would still have a book home in the wild, wild world. As it is, we  maintain our connection by e mailing our GGOBIT list when something important happens in our life.

We did put together a collection of essays.  Twenty memoirs of the "regulars" talking about who they are, how they came to GGOBIT and how the friendships of our first nine years are among our most treasured.

Some of the old friends are gone, but unlike old generals, we cannot, will not fade away.


  1. Like you, Phyllis, I have always loved to read. Unlike you, however, have not gotten my stuff together (on many levels) to be a regular in a book club. Maybe it will be a part of my new normal.

  2. Cindy, I remember the one day you were a member of our in-town book club.. and you contributed wisely-- and then you left us to be at Franny's soccer games. Being a good mother beats being a good reader every time.