Toronto Closeup: “The Book Club That Changed My Life”

in Girly Book Club by

Sometimes a book can change your life. Sarah Wreford says the Girly Book Club changed hers.

As one of the co-hosts of GBC’s 3,200-member Toronto chapter, Wreford, a grade 9-12 schoolteacher, credits the book club with bringing “so many incredible friends into her life. I love meeting with the other chapter hosts at host retreats, love interacting with other members, and love writing book reviews.”

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She also loves hosting the GBC with one of her closest friends, Sarah Doherty, who does fundraising events for a hospital foundation and who shares Sarah W.’s passion: “I love all the people GBC has brought into my life, from new members bringing in new perspectives to the now friends-for-life I have met.”

Like Toronto itself, the book club is a bit of a melting pot, with women from ages 20 to 70, from all around the world (England, Australia, Brazil, the U.S., for example), and in a variety of professions. Such an eclectic group brings a variety of perspectives to any book discussion.

The group typically draws anywhere from 30 to 50 people for its live monthly meetings. The co-hosts acknowledge that for someone new, it may sound scary and intimidating at first to try new things and jump into a group of relatively unknowns. But the members are very warm and welcoming, so people should push themselves to come out “instead of crawling into their beds on Tuesday nights. I promise you will feel energized through and after the meeting, and that you will be so glad you tried it,” says Sarah W.

Sarah W. remembers when she first joined: “I had a New Year’s resolution to meet more people. My expectations were super low.  The first book we read was Life of Pi, and I thought we’d need to know everything about the book.  I watched the movie and read the book only to realize that we were so busy connecting with other people that we forgot to discuss the book.”

 

Says Sarah D., “I was looking to do something out of my comfort zone and make connections with like-minded women. Needless to say, it worked.”

The beauty is that the Sarahs have become great friends and regularly meet outside of the GBC with other members for movies, birthday celebrations, gym classes, dinner and “Bachelor nation” viewing parties, to name a few activities.

When it comes to books, the Sarahs are well versed: Sarah W. reads about 40 books a year and Sarah D. reads about 50.

Some of the books in the group have caused heated discussions, such as The Good Girl, Behind Closed Doors and Lily and the Octopus. So many people were divided as to how they felt about them.

If they could be any fictional character, Sarah W. would choose Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird (“who wouldn’t want to be that wise?”) and Sarah D. would be Matilda.

As for the book that changed their lives, Sarah W. says, “I discovered my addiction to books when one weekend in elementary school I didn’t want to see any friends because I had to finish Sweet Valley High.” She also mentioned The Glass Castle, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Pride and Prejudice.

Sarah D says her life completely changed after being handed a copy of Charlotte’s Web by her first grade teacher. “This sparked a love of reading that only grew and grew.”

Asked about the strangest thing that ever happened at a monthly meeting, it was when a male showed up saying he was hoping to find new women to date. He was told in a kind manner that this wasn’t the place for that.

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