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Photo credit: Risa Weaver-Enion

I love Elle magazine, if for no other reason than it gives me plenty of material for my Sign of the Apocalypse posts. I love how they can promote the most ridiculous things with a straight face. For example, last month’s profile of a woman in Los Angeles (where else?) who, for a mere $450 per session, will lead your book club discussion.

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute…

My first reaction was, “What? [pause] Wait, what?” I felt like Don Draper. (Aside, if you haven’t seen the hilarious “Don Draper Says ‘What?'” clip on YouTube, I recommend you check it out immediately. I’ll wait. H/T to my brother Doug for pointing out that little gem to me.)

I was so flabbergasted by the concept of a paid book club leader that I called out to my husband in the next room: “Listen to this! ‘Your coach of the month. For $450 a session, book club leader Julie Goler helps women ignite their passion for reading.’ What the fuck? If you have a passion for reading, pick up a fucking book and read it. Why the hell do you need someone to ignite your passion?”

He was as dumbfounded as I was, if less profane about it. His reaction? “On the bright side, only stupid rich people are spending their money on this. They obviously don’t know what else to do with it.”

In all fairness to Ms. Goler, this is not her primary job. She also teaches English at – wait for it – Beverly Hills High School. But she has a number of regular groups that convene weekly, some that have been doing so for more than 10 years! You would think that after 10 years, you could run your own book club. (It’s like with therapists – if you’re still seeing the same one after a year, they’re doing something wrong.)

Goler’s primary contributions seem to be choosing the works and identifying themes for discussion. It’s like these people never heard of CliffsNotes. Hint: they’re a lot cheaper than $450. She also apparently serves as taskmaster, starting and concluding the weekly 75-minute gatherings at precise times.

I mean, sure, if your book club is more like a pack of wild monkeys in a library than a decorous group of literary-minded kindred spirits, then maybe you do need some professional book club guidance. Or maybe you just need to find better friends.