To some, the idea of belonging to a book club conjures thoughts of intellectual discussion about the latest bestsellers: discussion sessions about theme, voice, characterization and plot.

 

For a group of 22 Preston Hollow women, it’s much more than that.

 

          The Bookies, as they call themselves, were established in January 1999 by a group of Preston Hollow Elementary mothers who wanted to gather once a month to discuss more than just books. The club consists of women who are typically in the 39-44-age range, and their mission statement sums up their purpose:

 

“We are a group with diverse tastes and opinions … we have gone through all that life has to offer — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illnesses, laughter and tears.  Through it all we have been there for one another without fail.”

 

           “We do really discuss the books,” says Dawn Hall, a member of the Bookies since its beginnings. “My husband always teases me and says, ‘You’re just there to drink wine and have fun.’ And I say, ‘No, no, we really do discuss.’ Typically we’ll have a light supper, have a little chit chat time, and then we sit down, and we actually will talk about the book.”

 

          Beth Anderson, another Bookie, agrees.

 

          “I think that the discussions, at certain times, enable you to get to know people better, because of the topics you end up discussing. One time, we ended up talking about mothers, and another time we ended up talking about sibling order. These are different things that normally, when talking to a friend, may not come up in conversation.”

 

          While the group is open to reading different types of literature, there seems to be an affinity for historical fiction among members.

 

          “I think the women in our age group like to read something that’s well-written, but where they learn something, too,” Hall says. “One year, we read a book by a Texas author, and it was called Hill Country. It really followed the family of L.B.J. It was a piece of fiction, but it was based on a diary found by the best friend of Lucy Baines Johnson. It was so interesting, but it was a great story.”

 

          Each spring, the Bookies have an annual awards ceremony, which is a spoof of the Oscars. The awards are named “The Dawnies” for the founder of the awards, Dawn Hall. The red carpet, formal event is a hit each March. 

 

          “I keep track of all the books we’ve read,” Hall says. “I give everyone a little reminder so that they can remember the book, and who chose the books, and we sort of pick out our favorite characters, and then we cast the Dawnies. And everyone votes by secret ballot. I’m the only one who knows who’s going to win. So if you were the person who selected a book who got the most votes, then you received the award.”

 

          In addition to the Dawnies, the group has other memorable events throughout the year, such as a gift exchange during the holidays, and dinners that resemble themes from the books. 

 

          “The book These is My Words is a story about a young girl who goes westward with her family during the westward expansion,” Hall says. “It was very, sort of old-West like, and so when we got to that point for the meal, the host had quilts on the floor, and we sat on the floor to eat like they did in the book.”

 

          While hosts have used their imagination when holding book club gatherings in their homes, one Bookie, Sharon Frederick, decided when it was her turn to host, that she was going to pull out all the stops.

 

          “When it’s your month to be the book club leader, you get to select the book,” Frederick says. “I used to live in New Orleans , and through my work in advertising, I met Judy Palmer, who goes by Judy Connor as an author. We’re very close friends, and she has recently published a book called Southern Fried Divorce. Judy couldn’t come to us, so I called her and said, ‘Would you be willing to meet with us if I could arrange for our book club to come to you?’”

 

So in May, the group went to New Orleans to visit Connor.

 

          The Bookies typically read a new book each month that doesn’t exceed 400 pages, and discussions are very lively.

 

          “Some discussions go for 15 minutes, and other times you talk as a group for an hour about a subject matter that kind of stems from the book,” Anderson says. “We always end up laughing during the time because when everyone gets together, it’s fun.”

 

          The members agree that the best part of the club is the camaraderie and the support that each receives from one another.   

 

          “I think for me, because I’m a stay-at-home mom who used to work, you get that support system,” Frederick says. “This is a recapturing of that (work support system) for a stay-at-home mom. It broadens my awareness of what’s going on in the community.

 

“I’ve really enjoyed that and reading something other than a newspaper.”   

 


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