Still no idea what actually went wrong with my back yesterday, but after lots of drugs and the heating pad, I am better today. Still very tender and not overly mobile, but nothing like the pain of yesterday.
At least I had already gone to the library before the store, so I've been listening to audio books while resting. Aren't they just one of the best inventions ever? I had intended to listen to them while canning today, but that would not be a good idea. While I can now GET downstairs, I certainly can't stand for hours. Or sit, for that matter. Basically the cats and I have spent the last 24 hours sprawled on the bed. Personally, I don't know what they see in it.
One thing the back pain has prompted me to do is to deal with annoyances that can be fixed. I can't always control my back, but I really do have control over other things. I've been in a book club on and off for 10-15 years. It formed, went on, fell apart, took a hiatus, reformed a few years ago, and I've been only sporadic about being able to make it (or anything else) in the last couple years, and had been debating about dropping out for a while. I don't know exactly how to have a successful book club, but I can tell you a few ways to have a book club fail:
* Fail to read each other's books. This is what killed off the book club earlier, and when the group reformed, for about a year everyone made the effort. Now, I think less than half the members ever read the book, and when I last hosted, absolutely no one bothered to read the book. It was still a fun night, but I can host parties without having to do any homework, and for the last couple years, I had stopped bothering to read books of anyone who didn't read everyone else's (with the exception of our new mommy, who probably barely has time to sleep but who almost always picks books I like), so I wasn't a very good member either. Either it's a book club or it isn't, and that has to mean respect for everyone's books.
* Fail to use common sense in book choices. Unless you have chosen to BE a religious book club, or you know that every single member of your group is of the same faith, do NOT select religious books. Unless you have ever heard someone open the door and say, "Oh yippee! It's Jehovah Witnesses!" (and a friend of ours who was a Jehovah's Witness for years assured me this never actually happens), I think it's safe to assume that people just don't enjoy someone proselytizing. I could, of course, be wrong, and there might be a Catholic book club that reads Mormon literature and a Mormon one that reads Catholic literature, but I've lived most of my life in Idaho, which is sort of North/South split of those two religions, and I have certainly never seen either.
* Don't bring in new members. Members are going to drop out, and if you don't bring in new members pretty regularly, you're going to dwindle in numbers. New members keep you going, inject new ideas, generally keep you focused on being a book club, and can help prevent cliques.
* Be sure to have conversations that exclude other members. It's probably inevitable that one is going to bring in one's friends, and most book clubs do have a time before things "start" in which to chat, but once everyone is around the table or living room or whatever, to be discussing people the rest of the group doesn't know or things that only a few people are involved in alienates everyone else. Once you're in the "group" setting, it should be a group-friendly conversation. Maybe even about the book.........?
One of my friends has been in a book club for at least 15 years, if not 20, so obviously they can keep going, and the one I just left is still going and will continue quite happily without me, I'm sure, so I think they can work. I just don't think I'll join one again. We recently had dinner with friends and spent quite a bit of time swapping book recommendations and discussing great things we've read, which I've found is a wonderful way to get new things to read. In fact, while recuperating I have been listening to one of those recommendations, Dog On It by Spencer Quinn, and found it completely delightful. And I like Goodreads, which allows me to get all sorts of new reading ideas from friends, and especially if we like the same book can chat about it. But having a frustrating book club experience in order to see people I genuinely like seems silly--why not read what I want and just have a non-book party? See, now wasn't that an easy problem to solve?