I am lucky enough to belong to the best book club ever. Heaving Bosom Buddies Book Club (or HBB for short) is the creation of four (now five!) ladies who love to read, discuss, giggle over and appreciate without judgement the amazing labor of love that is The Romance Novel.
See, we’re smart. And we love Romance Novels. And we all know that those two points are not mutually exclusive. (For the best on-line resource available check out Smart Bitches, Trashy Books the defining on-line romance novel website. Funny, feminist bloggers who love romance novels in all their awesome glory? Yes, please.)
How did HBB form? Well. Three(ish) years ago I was obsessing about this new romance novel coming out. The new book was the sequel to a romance novel I had absolutely loved and I was so excited for it to be published that I googled the exact publication date and was at Barnes & Noble at 8:57 AM on that date to get the book as soon as it hit the shelf. At 9 AM I was in the door and bee-lining to the Romance Novel section of the store. See, at this point I still had a little shame about reading Romance Novels (Romance Novels not being, oh, the most respected form of literature) and my goal was to be in and out as soon as possible. I located my book in approximately 2.5 seconds and as I turned around to leave the Romance Novel section I came face to face with a woman, about fifty, wearing a cat sweater who was also there at 9 AM for the same book
. We made eye contact and in that moment I saw my future: Anna, at 50, still lives alone, still is a nanny for old Professors, has reverted to her Middle School habit of wearing sweaters with LOTS OF CATS on them and, every Tuesday, comes to Barnes & Noble at 9 AM to get the latest books. (As a full disclosure, writing that just now, I honestly don’t see all that much wrong with that life (it actually sounds like fun. Except for the sweaters.) but at that point in my life, there was not much more terrifying to me then thinking that the next 25 years could pass and nothing would change in my life (except for the acquisition of cat sweaters.)) Quick catch-up: Not all cat sweaters are created equal. There is nothing wrong with this cat sweater. There is everything wrong with this cat sweater.
I left Barnes & Noble, shaken and sweaty (but with my Romance Novel safely stowed in my bag.) As so many in my age group do, when all we want is to be told that we are okay, I reached out to that ol’ social medium: Facebook. In less than 50 words I related my tale of cat-sweater shame in B&N. My status quickly got the amount of ‘Likes’ I was expecting (it was a good story) but it got one comment that I was not expecting. A lady of my acquaintance, a Mrs. Faye (who I had a total friend-crush on) called out the Romance Novel self-shaming-spiral-of-doubt that my FB post had become. I quickly replied along the lines of, “I would have less shame if I only had more a support group.” Faye quickly responded that we needed to become a support group. Our frenzied commenting/messaging/brainstorming-of-potential-book-club-members culminated, one month later, in the inaugural meeting of Heaving Bosom Buddy Book Club.
We meet once a month, usually on the first Sunday of the month. Scones, tea and muffins are often consumed. Tropes are discussed. Clothes are swapped. Stories become series become recurring themes become our hobbies become our stories become our lives become the thread of strong friendships. Sometimes our Sundays are not enough and we need a mid-month Wednesday Wine Night at a local eatery to catch up and kvetch.
The best part? The romance novel that set this all in motion was this one and it was wretched. That a group that is so wonderful, special, fun and, truly, a highlight of my month came out of the only Romance Novel I’ve ever showed up to B&N at 9 AM to purchase is something that continues to strike me as serendipitous.
HBB Lovelies – I love you. Thanks for making my Sundays so swell.