Do you know anyone in a book club?’ I ask Christina, my hairdresser. “I am,” she replies, “I’m in six.”
Six! I look at her in the mirror as she expertly trims around my ears; as a sole-trader with a husband and two young children, ‘when does she find the time?’ I wonder.
An avid reader since childhood, Christina explains that she’s been in ‘salon book clubs’ since she was an apprentice in Broken Hill, over 20 years ago.
“The local book clubs were always on a Thursday night or a Saturday. Both days I was working. So I started talking with clients about what they were reading. Often they’d loan me the book or else I’d get a copy myself, so we could talk about the book together.
“It made sense because I have all these people I meet, and it’s great fun.
Different clients have opened her eyes to a range of genres she’d never herself explored. Christina says in the last few years particularly she’s been introduced to books she’d never had considered picking up.
“I really like odd books, something a bit weird perhaps, but focused around everyday life. I’d never looked for example at Icelandic crime, until one day a client brought in a whole bag of them. I was addicted!
It works both ways too. “We cross-fertilise.” She explains. “They hear about what I’ve read. Although I’m not sure they learn much from me….”
One of the joys of her book clubs she says is that because she has clients from many different walks of life, she often gets a different perspective on a book.
“For example, a story I think is light and frivolous will be described by a client as powerful and memorable. She discusses this incredible ironic twist at the end that brought the whole story together – that I’d completely missed.”
Christina normally has three books on the go at any one time. “I have something that teaches me something, something that’s funny, or for fun, for example it might be Pollyanna, if I’m feeling a bit low, and I have something a bit heavier.”
“It’s enabled me to communicate with people that ordinarily might have found it difficult to talk. Hairdressing salons can be intimidating places for a lot of people and I’ve found that talking about something as simple as a book can be a great conversation starter, and a leveller.”
Christina says there are often disagreements, sometimes even arguments, but she’s yet to lose a client over a book….