For Better—APW Book Club Meetups

{Denver book club, by Christy of Moodeous Photography}

Let me sum up this month’s APW book clubs for you in two sentences:

  • Everyone agrees that correlation does not equal causation.
  • Lots of booze.

{San Francisco boozes it up, by Emily Takes Photos}

We’ll dive into a proper discussion of For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, by Tara Parker-Pope tomorrow, but for now let’s dive into the pictures, and sum ups of what happened in some of the many meet-ups.

{Chicago book club: shot by Christy Tyler Photography}

Sidenote: it’s pretty crazy to think of all these groups of smart women meeting up all over the world on the same day to have similar conversations, isn’t it? Several people asked me how it felt to be responsible for all of it… and all I can tell you is that I don’t really know. It feels like this bizarre phenomenon, like herding cats, but not like something I started (even though I did). But what the hell? Let’s celebrate it, right?

{Edinburgh meet-up, shot by Lauren McGlynn Photography}

First up, a meet-up that it kills me I was not at, because it took place in one of my favorite cities in the world: Edinburgh. This was written up by Kirsty of A Safe Mooring, and also of our Wedding Graduate section (She cut her hair. It’s super cute, right?):

We chatted about the book a bit, and it sparked some interesting conversations about divorce rates, how we argue with our partners (apparently instead of saying “you forgot to buy milk”, we must say “I am sad that we have no milk”. Hmm), and so on. I had bought a copy of the book second-hand from Amazon, and when it arrived someone had already filled in their answers to all the questionnaires, which was bizarre and hilarious in equal measures. But the consensus among those of us who had read the book was that it was pretty dry and, erm, kind of dull.  So instead we talked about our lives, our weddings, our families, school, work, religion, the hideousness of the majority of Scottish wedding photography and how to make skirts out of men’s t-shirts. We also drank cocktails out of jam jars, which I highly recommend. It was so fun to meet such a variety of intelligent, interesting, beautiful women whose paths would perhaps never otherwise have crossed – it’s like APW leapt off the screen and came to life. (More here. Though the editor is secretly disappointed that so many cocktails and so little whiskey was drunk. Not whenever I make it into to town!)


Next up, London. If we’re being frank, I’m slightly miffed that I wasn’t there. It seems almost rude that London is holding parties without me, but still. They do look like they’re having fun, right? Alicia sends the following report:

If I’m honest, I think none of us were really that into the book —but then again that sometimes makes for as good a discussion as anything! We felt that there were a lot of sweeping generalizations that didn’t hold true to our relationships or to those of people we know (e.g. some of us pretty much never ever do housework so that whole chapter was kind of out, lots of sweeping statements of ‘homosexual/heterosexual couples are like X…’). I gather many others have had some of the same issues.

We had a good discussion about sources of emotional support within and outside your couple—particularly the difference between what you’d like versus the reality. For instance, in the London meet up we were all ex-pat North Americans (different from last time where I was the only one from the US and the others were Brits). So for some people, they would like to have closer relationships with people outside their couple but they weren’t really able to because they were in a new country, felt shy, were having trouble finding work etc. and so therefore felt more insular with their partner by circumstance rather than by choice.

{Houston! Taken by Elissa R Photography}

Then, Rachelle and the Houston meet-up pointed out that maybe the main APW problem with the book is that it wasn’t exactly written for us. She reports:

We met at the private Investor’s Pub at Saint Arnold Brewery where my almost-husband works. Shannon and Tim brought chips and dip, I brought homemade pretzels and Elissa brought her camera. We talked about the book first and agreed that after about the third chapter, the whole thing sort of dissolved into an extended Cosmo quiz. There were parts we liked, like how the author dispelled certain myths about divorce statistics, but we didn’t like the focus on gender stereotypes and heterosexual relationships. Shannon brought up a good point, that maybe since we (the APW book club) are probably a bit out of the mainstream a book based on studies of “normal” populations may not apply to us exactly. Overall we were all disappointed in the book and while we didn’t think it was horrible, it wasn’t what we had expected or hoped for.

{San Francisco! Taken by a security guard!}

{SF, allegedly by Emily Takes Photos but she’s in it, with APW Lauren and Allison Andres}

In San Francisco, they barely discussed the book, but would like you to know that they consumed four bottles of booze, thankyouVERYmuch.


{More DC!}

In DC, the  most epic of the APW book clubs, with somewhat regular cocktail nights, had a rooftop party with a lot of Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Sarah reported:

When our chatting finally turned to the book, the general reaction was “What?” While there were bits each of us appreciated, for much of the group the “science” seemed to be a bit … off. It did, however, provide a springboard for a discussion about the intricacies of our own marriages, and trading tips on how to better handle ourselves (and our partners) in difficult situations. One bit that rang especially true for a few of us was the general negativity (in both the book, and the real world) of reactions to young (age) marriages, and how it impacts our perceptions, our emotions, and our relationships. Issues that weren’t really addressed by the author (birth order, family situations, area demographics) seemed to us to play bigger roles in our relationship dynamics then “access to the internet” and the other broad generalizations the book covered. When it came down to it, we all agreed that while knowing the science can be helpful, knowing our relationships and our partners is best.

{Cincinnati, plus mascots.}

Maggie from Cincinnati reports:

We met at one member’s house and stuffed ourselves with potluck treats and also enjoyed playing with the 2 adorable dog “mascots.” We had a blast. A thoughtful, intelligent, but also laugh-out-loud blast. We discussed every question and then some (including an analysis of “the sound you uterus makes when it screams” – you had to have been there, for that one). I feel like the major breakthrough for me was when we agreed that: at times in your life, if your relationship ain’t broke… you should just enjoy that and not create problems where there aren’t any. We also focused a lot on friends and boundaries: how much is it okay to share with others? How much should remain private? We all seemed to feel that it’s important to have an outlet of some kind (online or IRL), but also to respect your partner’s privacy – and to ask them what level of “dishing” makes them uncomfortable, and vice versa.

{Chicago is adorable: shot by Christy Tyler Photography}

Cindy sent in the following report from Chicago:

What can I say about the Chicago meetup? A bunch of lovely ladies showed up at my house on a really hot day with wine and food (including Guinness & Bailey’s cupcakes – yum!) and we had a great time.

General consensus was that the science in the book was questionable at best, and maybe the author really just wanted to absolve herself of any guilt about her own divorce. We found the book way too focused on gender roles, and we really resented the way she seemed to say some things would inevitably lead to divorce. Like the eye rolling! Universally, it seems, we Chicago ladies are eye-rollers and we whole-heartedly believe that we are not doomed to split up as a result.

We spent probably half the time talking about dealing with the things that drive us crazy about our partners, and specifically about chores. A lot of people related to the author’s point that regardless of how chores are actually divided, women tend to be stuck with thinking about who’s gonna do what and how those things should be done ‘right’. (As the token lesbian, I had to admit that we rarely fight about housework and I couldn’t relate to this particular dilemma. Not to worry, we have plenty of our own.) (Editors note: doesn’t apply to David and I either, and we’re straight.) What we seem to have concluded is that the key to dealing with it is to accept that you do things differently from each other, remember that no one can read minds, and communicate, communicate, communicate about whatever’s pissing you off.

And with that, let’s kick it to the pictures!



{Denver, plus a mom, by Christy of Moodeous Photography}

We’ll be back tomorrow with more discussion of the book. And next week we’re announcing an easy summer book club read… mostly just to facilitate a nice summer cocktail. You’re welcome.

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  • yayyyy bookclub! I’m glad Sarah remembered all that, when I considered doing the write-up all I could think of was how many mimosas I had. and how much we talked about sex!

    these pictures are amazing. my mind is blown a little bit when I think about all these groups of women getting together on the same day – and I didn’t even start it! just being a part of it is pretty magical. :)

    • carrie

      Also awesome? DC APW is EPIC. Yeah, it is! And I swear my life will calm down one of these days so I can come to book club/meet ups!

      • JEM

        Same! I went to one and it was great and I’ve missed the last two AND the past several happy hours. :(

        • What the eff, you two?! There’s no excuse for not ever seeing us. Since we meet up to drink A LOT. Suggest a get-together on the FB page for crissakes! I think we’re going to have our own book club meetup for Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”…

    • Ha! :) Those memories are the sign of a good bookclub, I think.

    • also we are now pushing 60 on the facebook group, whaaaat :)

  • ka

    Yay bookclub! Yay Meg! Sorry NYC was mum on the situation. We discussed the book in depth, and then I really wanted to never think about it ever again.

    • Raqui

      Hi there! Was nice meeting you on Sat. I pretty much feel the same way. I didn’t finish the book, but I’m going to read the last chapter and give it away. Relationships are totally unscientific anyway.

      *If anyone here wants it, let me know and I’ll get your address and mail it to you – my email raenyc at hotmail dot com.

  • Reading the APW response to the book is so fascinating! I have avoided reading “For Better” because I am not a great admirer of Tara Parker-Pope’s work at the New York Times — she seems to be a little bit credulous about anything that sounds science-y. It sounds like that carried over to the book (and also like the book just wasn’t very compellingly constructed).

    The APW feedback doesn’t make me want to read the book, but it does make me desperately want to go to the next book club!

  • I don’t know about you guys but I think APW Scotland is super adorable. Not that I’m biased.

    • meg

      Fact. Also, isn’t it funny that the UK book has a different, and less positive, title?

      • That’s how we Brits roll. It’s all rain and misery over here. Why do you think I needed the cheerful yellow skirt so badly?

        • APW book club looks ace, roll on the next one!

          • WAIT!!! Who is this Linsey?? I’ve only ever met one of us in my life…we must chat, you and me! My mother doomed me in many ways with my name (calls me by Linsey, which is my middle name) and spelling it all phonetically.

            Oh, soul sista!

        • meg

          NEW ICON!

    • Yes I agree, we are super adorable; I love the photos too!

      • Someone

        Ah, I wish there were some APWers in-between London and Edinburgh!

  • Ha! I love how even though I couldn’t be at the Cincinnati meet up, my pup was there! I’m looking forward to the next one and hoping it finally works out!

    • There may or may not have been plans made to kidnap your pup. ;)

      Hope you can join us for the next one! (we should also just get together sometime on our own, Cinci/N KY APW’ers…!).

  • emily rose

    No write-up of LA?! Shoot, I totally should have taken care of that. Well, our brunch was fabulous. Not so many cocktails as other cities, it seems, but lots of insanely good coffee. I’d say that our overall opinion on the book was similar to the general consensus above, but we also focused on family issues: planning a wedding with no immediate family or living across the country from them, building a healthy marriage with a family full of divorce, recreating unhealthy conflict dynamics, etc.

    Oh, and can we talk about the berry-jam-and-bacon-and-cream-cheese-stuffed-french-toast? YUM.

    • Lindsey

      Emily, agreed! Good food, great drinks, lively discussion and a really wonderful group of women! I didn’t want it to end! (Even I was the one who dashed out early and left my library book on the table…oops!)

      I love how it looks like the LA group color-coordinated in shades of blue with contrasting white! We are a pretty fabulous bunch! :)

    • Whaaaaaat that sounds like the most painfully delicious thing everrrrrr!! Guess what I’m having for dinner…

  • Jo

    Cincinnati, it’s my very wise opinion that we need to follow in DC’s stead and do monthly meetups.

    • YES. Yes, we do. (Perhaps after 31 days from now though, when you’re a little less busy…)

  • Jo

    Also, Houston? So jealous of your private beer room! And London/Edinburgh?! GAH.

    • Fiorentina

      We can thank Rachelle for the private beer room. Her veeeeeerrrrrry soon-to-be-husband works at the brewery and they got us the VIP room. It is totally swank you guys.

  • Rachel

    Aw crap, I forgot to send in the write up and picture for Orange County. We had a small group but a great time. Talked about the book with lots of attention on the housework, how to handle arguments, and other good stuff; but mostly I think we enjoyed meeting each other with the common interest of APW. It was neat because we had one person who was just married, me who is about to be married, and one other who just got engaged! Fun times had by all but no cocktails :(

    • Ashley B

      I’m thinking with all of our talk of fun places to go in the OC, next time there needs to be yummy food and drink!

  • Ahhhh! Columbus forgot to submit a summary and take a photo. Epic FAIL! We repeated many of the above mentioned conversations AND we will be meeting up again in early August for some fun. Any other Cbusers out there want to join us? Email me!

    • Genevieve

      Next time there might even be drinks involved!

      • Definitely drinks!

  • While my fellow Chicagoans were having their practical wedding book club, I was attending the very practical (and beautiful) wedding of my brother. Bummed I missed the meet-up, but it’s safe to say I agree about the eye-rolling!

    Yay Chicago!

    • Katelyn

      It’s funny because as soon as someone mentioned the eye-rolling, we all rolled our eyes simultaneously!

      I think we’re trying to arrange for more regular meetups for coffee (or cocktails ;-) ) so make sure to join the Chicago facebook gorup if you haven’t already!

  • We Toronto ladies talked about taking a photo, but at the end of the night (we met on Friday), we were too stuffed with poutine to whip out the smartphones. We were joined by a new face (and wedding graduate), though, which was really fun!

  • Lindsey

    So bummed I missed the Chicago meet-up, although I did throw my best friend a fabulous bachelorette, so I participated in the cocktail drinking :) I hope to make the next one!

    • Sad I missed it too. I think we might need to take a cue from one of these other cities and have semi regular non book club meetups. My weekends for the rest of the summer are filling up, but I could always use a good excuse to go out for a drink with some fabulous women on a weeknight :)

  • That was the best Saturday I’ve had in a while. (new friends + laughter + so much food = awesome)

    The open, honest discussion at these bookclubs blows me away, and I think APW sets the stage for that. The things talked about on this blog let everyone know that relationships/marriages aren’t always perfect, and it’s okay to say that. And at bookclub, we do say that. Not in a way that breaks down our relationships, but in a way that builds them up and looks at them truthfully, taking the not-so-good parts with the good parts. It’s all very refreshing. So thanks, Meg, for that.

    • meg


  • Amy

    I totally failed in sending in a write-up of the CT meet-up, which is a shame since we were graced by the presence of the lovely Kelly Prizel and some equally awesome CT-area readers. I will say that we also managed to go through about 4 bottles of wine/champagne among the four of us…so…yeah, I think this just means APW ladies can hold their booze.
    Did anyone else get into a discussion of children in marriage? I think we all agreed on how terrible that chapter made having kids seem. Like, well, kids suck the sex and love out of your marriage, but don’t worry, they’re gone in 20 years!

    • Haha, I almost mentioned that in my recap – “we all agreed that the parenting chapter was terrifying…” ;)

    • meg

      HOW DID KELLY PRIZEL NOT TAKE AND SEND ME PICTURES? She is so grounded. Sighhhh….. ;)

      • meg

        Update: Kelly Prizel got drunk with the ladies. She is excused.

        • Amy

          Um, I take full responsibility for getting Kelly drunk…though my husband probably helped encourage the whole thing.

  • The correlation/causation really grates on me in popular media, and there were several instances of it in the book as well. That was my main beef with it. On the whole I did find it an enjoyable read though.

    However after telling my husband that people who use first person plural when talking about their relationship have a better relationship than people who use first person singular, every time I say “we have a good marriage” he comes back with, “No, *I* have a good marriage.” But then, that’s why I married him.

    • Fiorentina


  • Also, I am loving that there is a couple in the background of the London picture kissing!

    • meg

      They told me to use that picture because of that.

  • Houston met at St. Arnold Brewery?! I am now doubly bummed I could not attend :(

    • Fiorentina

      Come next time! It was really fun, even though the book was a bust. More the merrier!

      • I will have to keep my eyes pealed for next time. I’m in desperate need of more smart, witty women in my life.

        • Fiorentina

          I’m sure we could arrange some kind of meetup in the meantime. Just sayin’.

  • Shawn

    This is great! Also, just wanted to comment what a lovely apartment the Chicago meet-up was at – love the brick!

    • meg

      I know, right? I already told Cindy that. I’m moving in.

      • My couch does have a sleeper inside of it. Visit anytime.

    • JEM

      I’m a Chicago to DC transplant and when I saw it I thought “aah, that is so Chi.”

  • is there no one else out there living in st. louis? to be honest, i didn’t have any interest in reading this particular book choice (sounds like i didn’t miss out there) but all the meet ups look like great fun! i just may need to drive up to chicago next time. . .

    • I know! I’m in the Kansas City area & slightly dying of envy over here. I have a smart, funny, engaged friend in Columbia. Could we start a group? (I have no idea if that’s closer than Chicago for you.)

      • hmm. . . i’ve only been in st. louis for a year and haven’t explored the rest of the state much. but according to google maps, columbia is just over 2 hours (vs. 4-5 hours to chicago). So yup, it would be closer!

  • Sigh…wish we had a group in Orlando.

    • Brenda H

      Not in Orlando (faaaaar too north for that) but wish there was a group out here – up north in Edmonton, Canada!

  • Long time reader, first time poster!

    Is there an LA book club? I would love to meet some fellow brides-to-be who have their heads screwed on straight :)

    • emily rose

      There’s an LA and an OC! We (the LA group) met in West LA, but nobody was actually from around there so maybe it’ll be somewhere else next time…? Do you have Facebook? You can join our group. And make sure to come to the next book club!

      • Awesome! I’m in Culver City, so WLA would work but I could probably meet anywhere you guys decide next time. You can add me on facebook here: Thanks!!

      • meg

        Send me the LA Facebook link, and I’ll link to it!

  • Elizabeth

    I was out of town and am so sad I missed the SF meet-up! Since I couldn’t make it, here’s a cartoon that seems very fitting for the discussions:

  • Soraya

    Knoxville?!?! Oh my goodness…. I might need to make a road trip next time! :)

    • Jillian

      Do it! We had a great little group. More is definitely merrier in the case of awesome APW women!

  • Ohhhh, so jealous of the Edinburgh meet-up as well! I studied there in undergrad, have been back 4 times, and would move there in a heartbeat (as would the husband) if the stars aligned. And now I’m going to read A Safe Mooring – thank you for the blog referral!

  • ElfPuddle

    The Atlanta group (that would be Lauren, her baby, me, and my fiance) mostly chatted about ourselves and not the book too. I’m glad to see we weren’t the only ones.

    • And I totally should have done a write up! And taken photos! Ah, well. I have to say, despite the bad reviews, I really did enjoy the book, even if I didn’t really agree with all of it. I enjoyed meeting you and your fiance more though!

      • ElfPuddle

        The feeling is mutual. *hug*

    • Denzi

      Yay! You guys met! Next time I will hang out with y’all, when I’m not out of town having the Weekend of DOOM with the in-laws. (No, seriously. DOOM.)

      • ElfPuddle

        I’m sorry about the DOOM. Next time tell the in-laws to stuff it and come eat with us! (Well, “stuff it” might be too strong.)

  • I so need to start going to the Raleigh/Durham meetings. I live in Southern Pines and the last time I went to lunch with some new friends here, I had to sit very quietly through a homophobic conversation while I tried not to throw up. (I was only silent because I met them through a church group. Yeah, being a “blue” Christian makes me feel like the last unicorn in this town.)

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