Book Clubs. Revived as the millennial hobby for virtue signalling; the smug line to drop in at a networking event; an activity you can still engage with despite your tiny wine headache from last night’s “I’ll just stay for one” pub visit. Or perhaps, the antidote we need now more than ever in response to a divided society.
For almost a year now, a group of around twenty women meet every six weeks in a cafe underneath a church in the centre of Cardiff. We work in the third sector, in construction, for the NHS and we’re all bound together by feeling, quite frankly, fed up.
But just as solely talking about mental health won’t fund vital services, we wanted this group to be more than just an echo chamber; we needed to consider how we could be practical.
So far, we’ve donated a stack of copies of Jack Monroe’s Tin Can Cook books to our local food bank, protested Trump’s visit to the UK in June of last year and played a small part in building a new women’s library for Cardiff Women’s Aid. But this is just the beginning and our 2020 plans will be ambitious – we’ll raise more money, give up our time to volunteer and collaborate with others.
In our WhatsApp group of 41, topics of discussion range from sharing articles on FGM practices in the UK, to arranging trips to the theatre to watch comedy performances on endometriosis. It’s a safe space for us to talk about personal circumstances or to ask for advice and crucially, it’s a place where we learn.
Surprising to (I hope) absolutely no one, feminists are not a homogenous group and we don’t always agree. But this community provides us with a foundation to listen, challenge and learn, making sure we that our practices remain intersectional.
That first book club meeting offered more than just a reason to reactivate my good reads account. The serendipitous timing of one of my closest friends moving to Edinburgh and the beginning of regularly meeting like-minded women is almost too vomit-inducing in it’s cheesiness (although if Richard Curtis is reading, I’d like Julianne Moore to play me).
Human connection and action should be intertwined. They keep us focused and push us to consider how we give back to our community; particularly in this bleak political landscape. Book clubs are a place for learning, for pulling ourselves out of our comfort zones and asking uncomfortable questions as we address our privileges and plan how we can use them to help others.
So if you’re feeling woeful as we hurtle toward this next stint of austerity – book that cafe table and post the date on Instagram. Create the community that you want to see, the friendships you crave and let’s start to work together, in pockets across the UK, to help those that our government won’t. To paraphrase Emmeline Pankhurst – get up off your arse and fucking do something.
Guest blog by Freya Reynolds-Feeney
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We’re so excited that the Campaign to End Loneliness has published our blog today. It’s all about how CFBC came to be, what it means to us and the wonder of making new friends over books and so so much more. It’d mean a lot if you could give it a read, find the link in our bio ⬆️ . . The #BeMoreUs Campaign is all about the small, easy, everyday things we can do to feel more connected to each other and our communities. We wanted to meet other, like-minded women, so we thought of something we loved that made us feel the most ourselves and hoped to connect with others through it. We’ve been lucky to create a truly wonderful community of women, and we hope others will feel able to do the same. Many of us will have been affected by, or know someone affected by loneliness – the Campaign to End Loneliness have loads of resources on their website if you’d like to have a look or get involved. . . . . #CampaignToEndLoneliness #EndLoneliness #booksagainstloneliness #cardifffeministbookclub #cfbc #feministbookclub #cardiffbookclub #whatsoncardiff #womenwhoread #oursharedshelf #shelfie