Six years of Articles Club

28 October 2021

Six years ago this month, Stephanie and I posted an invitation on our respective blogs: would anyone be interested in reading articles together and discussing them once a month? It would be like a book club, but with articles! That first night, we sat around my living room with snacks and drinks in hand, 10 or so strangers who just happened to have a little blog in common. I didn’t know anyone in the circle except for Stephanie… which is a pretty crazy situation for an introvert to find herself in.

These photos are from our six-year anniversary dinner on Stephanie’s back deck… it’s good to have a wedding planner in the group!!

Six years later, the faces around the circle are beloved friends. I wrote extensively about this realization last year, how these strangers had become true, dear friends, so I won’t go into it again. But the thing I’ve been trying to figure out recently, is why this group is so special. I mean, yes, we’re friends – lots of people have those. But everyone in Articles Club is completely besotted with Articles Club (seriously, just listen to Steph wax poetic), and I do have a few theories as to why that is.

1. It’s rare to meet dear friends later in life. Often, the new friends you do meet are the parents of your children’s friends and not necessarily those you’d pick for yourself, and so it feels positively spoiling to have gained a dozen kindred spirits in my late 20s and early 30s. Bonds grow quick and deep when you sit around a table for hours of conversation each month, discussing everything from childhood to work to parenting to relationships to politics to religion to finances.

2. We are all starved for community. The pandemic has exacerbated this, yes, but loneliness was an issue in the culture at large long before COVID. As many as 61% of young adults feel “serious loneliness” right now, and about half of Americans say they have three or fewer close friends (which represents a precipitous decline in friendship over the last few decades). I think I can speak for us all when I say I am SO GRATEFUL to have a guaranteed evening of friends, conversation, and laughter every single month in this bleak landscape.

3. We’re starved for meaningful, compassionate, nuanced discussion. It’s not all laughter :) To the table we bring different backgrounds and opinions and passions and convictions, and yet we’re able to have nuanced, generous conversation. We live out the idea that what we have in common matters so much more than what divides us. I can’t tell you what a haven this feels like in a sometimes-cruel world that loves to point fingers and keep score.

4. We appreciate what we each bring to the table. Stacy will make you split your pants with laughter (Libby, too). Bethany teaches us up-dos. Adelyn keeps us young. Kelly is our resident luddite. Ginna is our resident mom. Julia keeps us from trending too precious. Pressley and Chelsey are our forward scouts for almost every rabbit hole we could ever want to go down. And Stephanie makes us feel loved and special by seating us at the most beautiful tables. We’re all just normal people, but the things (and people) we love grow lovelier by loving them, and that’s definitely true of this group.

Yes, that is the chicken pot pie I made with a “six” carved into the top.

All this to say – I think you should start an Articles Club. I think our world would be a happier, kinder, wiser, more generous place if you did. I KNOW it might seem scary, or you might not know where to start. But YOU CAN DO IT, and I hope you do. Lots of tips here if you’d like to try :)

Now onto some of the articles we read in the past year together, if you’d like to read along!

Working From Home:
15 Ways Homes Will Change Post-COVID-19
The End of Open-Plan Everything
10 Work-From-Home Habits That Have Saved My Days

Surviving Winter:
How to Make the Most of Covid Winter
How Will You Stay Cheerful This Winter?
The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter
The Norwegian Town Where the Sun Doesn’t Rise

Higher Education and Purpose:
Reimagining High Education in the United States
You Don’t Find Your Purpose – You Build It

The Power of Hope Is Real
How Hope Can Help You Heal
When Toxic Positivity Seeps Into Schools

The Aftermath of January 6th:
Our Shared Unsharing
Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection
The Roman Road From Insurrection

Opinions, Disagreements, and Changing People’s Minds:
How to Argue on the Internet Without Losing Your Mind
The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People
The Highest Form of Disagreement
Bonus: Adam Grant on the Armchair Expert podcast

The Current State of Friendship:
The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship
Why Having Seasonal Best Friends Is Actually Really Healthy
Staying Close to Your Friends Without Kids
What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?
We Want Our Friends Back! But Which Ones?

Strange Habits and Personal Hygiene:
The Hygiene Culture Wars That Started on Social Media
Coffee + Crumbs Episode 6.3: Why Am I Like This?

Current Events in Schools:
What Happens When a Slogan Becomes the Curriculum (and a follow-up by the same writer: ‘The Narrative Is, “You Can’t Get Ahead”’)
Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene
You Have to Read This Letter

When Grown-Ups Have Imaginary Friends
Momfluencer Content Enrages Me. Why Can’t I Look Away?
Quitting Social Media Made Me a Better Parent
Bonus: Under the Influence podcast
Bonus: This Instagram Stories highlight from Cotton Stem

The Bloggernacle: Or, the Intersection of LDS Culture and Blogging:
The Most American Religion
Why So Many of Your Favorite Beauty Personalities are Mormon
Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs

The Surprising Role of Nostalgia During the Coronavirus Pandemic
What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows
11 Reader Comments on Childhood Memories

I’d love to hear: what’s an article or essay you’ve read recently that made you want to discuss it with someone? Or, what do you think would be an interesting theme to discuss with a group like this? Leave a link – we’re always looking for new ideas! :)

Articles Club through the years:
Year One
Year Two
Year Three
Year Four
Year Five

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October 28, 2021 9:31 am

Hmm I’m curious about the selection of articles on Mormon influencers…Lately, my friends and I have been talking a lot about mental health, therapy and psychological research. I’m an editor for a psychology magazine and a newsletter for psychologists, so I guess I have the inside scoop on the latest things happening in that arena :) Just about everyone I know is interested in human behavior, from why do they do a specific thing, or why their children/husband/parents/the president act a certain way, and also behavior change. I think talking about this topic is a new thing in some circles, but the how and why of us is not a new topic at all. It’s a topic that I’ve found definitely connects all of us :)

October 28, 2021 4:36 pm

“Completely besotted” is the BEST way to describe my feelings for the group! Also, because you didn’t include yourself in #4 :), I’ll offer my opinion: You get us back on track in a firm but gentle way when we (often, always) go off-topic. I’m always grateful for that because it helps us actually discuss our articles — which I know sets us apart from similar clubs. If Ginna is our mom, you are (at least to me) our big sister!

October 28, 2021 4:37 pm
Reply to  Pressley

PS: We might need to get “the things (and people) we love grow lovelier by loving them” on t-shirts. Or stickers. Or tattoos?! (JK, but not really?)

November 4, 2021 12:25 pm
Reply to  Pressley

I second the big sister comment!!

October 28, 2021 7:03 pm

I had been inspired by you (and Stephanie) to start an Articles Club a couple years ago. I absolutely loved the conversations and connections that came from it! Unfortunately, I moved only a few months after starting the group. I would love to host one where we live now, but I still feel like I don’t know enough people to start a new Articles Club. Meeting people and fostering relationships during a pandemic is tough! I’ll definitely be perusing the articles your group has read over the past year, though.

Kelly Strawberry
October 29, 2021 9:37 am

LOL at resident luddite. I knew exactly what you meant but still Googled it. I wear my luddite badge with honor. :) So happy for this group of dear friends and I echo all of your sentiments.

November 4, 2021 12:25 pm

I had to look up luddite lol – and it fits you so well, Kelly!

October 29, 2021 9:55 am

Absolutely, positively YES to every single thing here! Starting articles club with you was one of the very best decisions of my life, and as dramatic as that sounds, it’s so true. What a profound blessing this incredible group of friends is! Here’s to another six (and hopefully many more!) years!! xoxox

October 30, 2021 8:54 am

The NY Times Bad Art Friend article! I got to it a couple weeks after everyone else had been talking about it, and now I have no one to discuss with!

November 4, 2021 12:24 pm

The resident mom! Ha! I love it so much and proudly wear this title.
A month or so ago someone asked me what I do for fun, which as a working mom in my 30’s has always made me a little weary to answer, but I told them I’m part of an articles club. It’s now my favorite answer to give because it sparks so many questions and everyone that I’ve talked about it with said it sounds like such a brilliant idea. And it really is. Articles Club night is my favorite night of the month! So thankful to be a part of such fine ladies. You all truly make me a better person. xoxo