The Book Club Next door

Is it bad that I joined a book club to weasel my way into the fancy homes on the other side of my cul-de-sac? With no intention of reading the books?

Let me explain.

When we moved into our house two years ago, I immediately joined “Nextdoor”, which if you aren’t familiar, is a private social network that groups you with “your neighbors” into local community networks where you can connect and share information about everything from lost cats, found dogs, recommendations on plumbers, prams and Prius repairs. Petty crime. The minutiae of everyday life. It’s oddly addicting.

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Twenty yards from our front door lurks one of the most beautiful and exclusive neighborhoods of all of San Francisco, Forest Hill (photo above). I walk through it everyday on my way to Muni, dreaming of what goes on behind those fancy and fabulous facades.

And yet. Due to Nextdoor mapping, we’re part of the “Forest Hill” Nextdoor group. On paper I live in Forest Hill! This stupidly makes me swell with pride.

A few months ago, this:

Nextdoor Forest Hill.

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And there it was. A way in. I didn’t care about being over-eager. I pounced with an enthusiastic, “Yes please!”

I haven’t been in a book club since the early ’90s, when me and a rowdy crew of my advertising friends used “book club” as an excuse to drink, gossip, drink and drink. No books were read. We didn’t care.

Nowadays, the idea of having to read a book chosen by a group of strangers sounds an awful lot like homework. And really, who has the time?

But still. This was Forest Hill. Time to suck it up.

I bought the book. It was fat and heavy. It sat under a pile of other blue books (yes, I color code my books as part of the decor.) As the book club date drew near, I started to ask friends who do a fair amount of reading if they’d read the book.

“Couldn’t put it down.”

“You know it won a Pulitzer Prize.”

“OMG Loved it.”

And on and on.

I reluctantly pulled it from the cobalt stack and cracked it open.

Finished it in five days. With one day to spare before Book Club.

With bottle of wine in hand, I nervously rang the bell on a mind-blowing mid-century modern gem just over the cul-de-sac.

As introductions were made, I had one eye on my new book club friends, while the other furiously scanned the living room and kitchen and ceiling beams and teak furniture and whatever else it could take in as the host asked, “Why do you think Marie-Laure give Werner the key?”

book club fashion book handbags

1. “I like big books and I cannot lie” bag, Barnes &Noble. 2. Olympia Le-Tan book clutch, Luisaviaroma. 3. Burberry Prorsum book-cover print leather tote, Harpers Bazaar.com. 4. “My book club only reads wine labels” tote, Etsy. 5. Olympia Le-Tan “Lord of the Flies” felt clutch, Browns.  6. NovelCreations Jane Eyre recycled book purse, Etsy.

PS: The book club book was “All the Light We Cannot See”. 

3 Responses

  1. jessicaellenhele@gmail.com'
    Jess Ellen

    “MY BOOK CLUB ONLY READS WINE LABELS”
    That is fantastic.

    Does your book club have cute men? And did the host mix drinks or only serve wine? I’ve been tempted to join these soirées, if they could be called such, but only in the interest of possibly meeting someone lovely. Of the opposite sex 😉

    It was a great book though, eh!

    1. Paula

      Jess!!! No cute men — only middle aged ladies! And yes, fantastic book. FYI, the book club host of the fabulous pad did not give any house tours, and I was too timid to ask. And we had to wait until we had a very serious book discussion before wine was proffered. Her daughter did make very tasty cream puffs in the shape of swans. xoxo

      1. jessicaellenhele@gmail.com'
        Jess Ellen

        No house tour? Hmmm… Dislike. Ditto the wait for drinks. How does one feel comfortable in such a fine house without imbibing straight away? Perhaps if beverages were served from the get go you might have had the courage to ask for a tour 😉

        Wealthy folks are fascinating. I was one of the event planners for Larry Ellison for some years and whoa! Hello!! He has (more than) enough money to live like the last samurai!

        Last but not least how charming that the daughter made swan cream puffs. Mom is raising quite the debutant! And that is another odd event folks (MUCH) out of my income bracket still do – Debutant Balls! http://www.drewaltizer.com/events/5822/san-francisco-debutante-ball-2015/album/top-picks/

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