"The idea for this book club was really born out of my concerns about feminism and intersectionality," begins Sarah Kennett, one of the leaders and organizers of the Little Rock Diversity Book Club. In one hand she is clutching her copy of Margot Lee Shetterly's hit book, Hidden Figures; in the other she holds a glass of wine. She continues: "I keep coming back to the line from the book that states that women of color must work twice as hard to get half as far. It still feels true today, I'm afraid."
Thus began our very first meeting of the LR Diversity Book Club. Admittedly, this is my first real-life book club (not counting the virtual book club HL hosted a couple of years ago), and I was nervous for several reasons: 1) I only knew one of the members-- everyone else would be a stranger; 2) English teachers are sometimes expected to be clever when it comes to analyzing books; and 3) I wasn't confident in my ability to talk about race in a sensitive but meaningful way. Despite these concerns, I wanted this book club to be my attempt at hygge-- at creating intimacy and intention within my chaotic post-election mind.
Ladies, I couldn't have asked for a better route to self-care.
Our first meeting consisted of wine, cheese dip, and cozy conversation with seven women of varied backgrounds. We spent the first hour discussing Hidden Figures and the racial and gender-associative themes found within it; the last two-and-a-half hours were spent sharing personal experiences and challenges within our respective workplaces and domestic arenas.
Yes-- our meeting operated as both book club and group therapy. We talked a lot about Beyoncé. We scooped hummus with thoughtfully sliced bell peppers as we genuinely listened to one another. "This is actually a Michelle Obama fan club," one woman joked. We shared our favorite parts of Hidden Figures and the parts that made us most angry, and those of who had already seen the movie insisted that it was better than the book. Some of us cried. We spoke honestly and without ego about our fears and hopes for the future of our country.
This, I started to realize, was the beginning of something important: a community was forming. Dare I say a "sisterhood"?
At this point in American history, (and let's face it: for most of the history of our country), women have been made to feel like second-class citizens. Sometimes that truth can manifest (with me, anyway) as anger or fear. Carving out a space for hygge in your life can be the perfect antidote to these feelings of angst or anguish.
Reading for pleasure has always been a means of self-care for me, but adding in the component of female community allowed for an added layer of intimacy and significance. This week I want to to challenge you to pursue hygge through reading a feminist text and then talking about it with people. Not on Facebook, but with real, live humans. This will give you the chance to not only learn something about feminism, but also about the people with whom you choose to discuss it-- and, lastly, you're sure to learn something about yourself. This is first step to intellectual honesty and to the addition of charm and substance to your life, which is --by definition -- what hygge is all about.
Want to be a part of the Little Rock Diversity Book Club? Reach out to Sarah Kennett (@shawtyologist on Instagram) for more information!