In November, I was looking for an out of print book about one of my favorite series, The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, and I came across a Betsy-Tacy Society. I never would have imagined such a thing existed, but I was of course, greatly intrigued. I found that they have a New York chapter which meets bi-monthly for book club meetings in Manhattan. You know where this is going. I marked my calendar immediately for their next meeting (February 27th) at Coliseum Books where they’d be discussing the final book in the series, Betsy’s Wedding. As the date approached, I got a little skittish about putting myself in such an unexplored social situation, but I told myself that they had to be nice if they liked Betsy-Tacy, and besides, it was being held in a public place, so I would be able to bail even at the last second if I felt the need.
Last night, I headed out into the bitter cold night towards Coliseum Books. I got there just when the meeting was supposed to start, and I figured they would be easy to spot, a large group of women gathered around a speaker, and hopefully I could just stand in the back, unnoticed. Well, they were easy to spot, because it was six women gathered around a few pushed together tables in the coffee shop, all of them clutching their well worn copies of Betsy’s Wedding. Friends, my courage almost failed me. Not only would I have to initiate contact, but I hadn’t brought my copy of the book (I was embarrassed that I’d had to check it out from the library, but that’s just because my Betsy-Tacy books are at my parent’s house). But I did it. I just dived in before I had a chance to change my mind.
They were, of course, very nice. They warmly welcomed me, and were excited that I had seen their website. Shortly after I sat down, a librarian from my library sat down, looked at me, and exclaimed, “you read Betsy-Tacy!” Everyone introduced themselves, and I was shamed to find that I was the only one who hadn’t read Betsy-Tacy as a child. I told them how I discovered the books (I worked at Zany Brainy when the books were republished, so I read each one as it came out for the second time). I guess it wasn’t too shameful, I was the youngest person there, but a couple of them didn’t seem too much older than me and I briefly wondered what was wrong with me that I hadn’t found the books earlier.
Anyway, we spent about an hour discussing the book, comparing Betsy to Maud (the books are very autobiographical), etc. We ended by reading the last chapter of the book together (someone shared their copy with me). And you know what? I had fun! They asked me if I would come again, and I said I would. It turns out that not only was I the only new person there last night, but the only new person in several years. Next time we’ll be discussing a Beverly Cleary book (they alternate Betsy and non-Betsy books).
Thus, my little adventure has a happy ending. Oh, and in case you were wondering, they call their book club “violent study club” because that’s what Betsy and her friends call their study group. If you want to know why, start with Betsy-Tacy and keep reading until you get to Betsy’s Wedding. You won’t regret it.