traveling book club
traveling book club
/tra·vuh·luhng bʊk klʌb/
a selection of individuals who read a book and travel to the setting in which the events of the narrative take place. The travelers visit real-life locations: historical landmarks, homes, churches, graves, memorials, statues, museums, beaches, streets, hiking trails, etc. The members stay in hotels, dine in restaurants and drink in bars the fictional characters and or real life individuals (non-fiction) visit in the book. And they generally have a pretty great time.
People ask me all the time how the traveling book club got started. There are many answers to that question and over the years I’ve answered it a few different ways. But the truth is the traveling book club was born on a foggy night in June in 2003 in Los Angeles.
I drove home from work that night from NBC Studios in Burbank. As I dipped into West Los Angeles on the 405 freeway I drove right into June gloom. I always loved that time of year in LA because it offers a break from the sunshine and the dry heat. My husband met me as I pulled into the driveway. He said, “Let’s take a walk.” I said, “In this?”
Now, I should have seen it coming. He had been looking for a better job opportunity. But he had been looking for a while. I secretly thought he might forget about it. Anyway, nothing can really prepare you for those life-changing moments. He said simply, “I have a job offer. It’s in San Francisco. I’d like to take it.”
So the other shoe had fallen. Only it really wasn’t a shoe. A shoe falls lightly with a small thud. This was a bowling ball, or no, a cannonball. And it fell with such force that it cracked the sidewalk we were standing on less than a half a block from our house. I’m talking about our cute little house, jammed with kids and their friends who were enjoying the prime of their elementary school lives. It was the house where we brought our babies home from the hospital…. one, two three, and later, the house where we had Mommy and Me on Friday mornings. It was where I hosted book club meetings or where a kid “drop off” or “pick up” at the end of the day really meant a splash of wine and a chat.
What? San Francisco? Isn’t it foggy there?
But in the end, it was very simple. We sold the house. We said goodbye. We said goodbye at goodbye parties, goodbye in small tearful visits, and on the last day when both cars were packed and the moving truck had long gone, we said goodbye on the street in front of our house to a small crowd of friends who had stopped by to get one last look at us.
And about six hours later, give or take, for stops and terrible Bay Bridge traffic, we opened the door of our seventh floor, three bedroom apartment. We all spilled into San Francisco. We walked slowly across the living room to the huge windows. And there, in all its’ glory was the San Francisco Bay punctuated by Alcatraz Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was not a foggy night in San Francisco. It was perfectly clear. With a lump in my throat and a turn in my stomach, I had to admit it was beautiful.
Another thing soon became perfectly clear. It turned out that for a few months, for us anyway, California became one big neighborhood. The I-5 Freeway might as well have been Olympic Boulevard that cuts its way through Los Angeles. When word got out that we had a perch above one of the most beautiful views in the world and a spare bedroom, they started coming. And so, in those first months, we shared our big adventure with the friends we had supposedly left behind. It was almost like we had never really moved.
We grew to love San Francisco, but we wanted a neighborhood again. So in the spring, we applied to three Catholic Schools. The first principal to call us was from the Oakland Hills. She told me she could take my kids. That next day I went out to Oakland to look at houses. A few days later we bought one.
We moved into our new house and staked our claim in the Bay Area. Our San Francisco vacation had ended and my kids were mad at me for moving them again. Our visitors slowed to a trickle and I realized this was the move I had been dreading – this was us really starting a new life. I missed my friends and wanted them to come and warm up the new house. So, one night I sat at the computer and found a beautiful picture of the San Francisco skyline and penned out these words:
San Francisco awaits you...
The Traveling Book Club Presents:
Tales of the City
Please come for a weekend of literary enlightenment and fun.
I printed out the invitations, stuffed them into envelopes and sent them off to eleven unsuspecting girls who would soon make up the Traveling Book Club.
That’s how our story started. The girls flew into the Bay Area and the Tales of the City weekend outpaced even my expectations. The Traveling Book Club has become an annual weekend and even something of an urban legend. People want to know everything; where we go, what we do, which books we read.
It’s all here at Tripping On Books. Not only the stories of our first two adventures Tales of the City and A Venetian Affair, but I have created guides for many other books which will help you plan your reading adventures. Take the trips on your own or send out an invitation to your friends and invite them to a weekend of literary enlightenment and fun!