The Tough Guy Book Club is a meeting place to discuss books and life in general

By , 25/04/2020 19:39

Tough Guy Book Club members of the Castlemaine chapter at a monthly meeting. Picture: SUPPLIEDThere are only a couple of rules you need to follow to join theclub.

First, don’t talk about work, what you do is not importantand the membersdon’t want to know.

Second,bring a positive attitude to each meeting.

That’s right, finishingthe club’s monthly bookis not vital and members are always encouraged to come to each meetingregardless of if they have completedit.

The Tough Guy Book Club was initially startedas a way for a group of mates to check in with each other everymonth, whichled toits inception ata pub in Melbourne.

They started using a book as an excuse to get to the pub so theycould talk properly, eventuallya few guys at the barnoticed them and were more than eager to join in on the discussion.

Like all good things in life, itstarted out small.

But from there it grew, from suburb to suburb, state to state there are now almost 30 chapters across the country and the first international chapter was recently launchedin the United States.

Founded byShay Leighton, the club chapters meet once a month in pubsto have in-depth discussions about the themes of the chosen book.

“Mostly we read books by tough guys, rather than as tough guys. The books we choose are guided by a loose central theme of masculinity.

“We’ve read two books by Ernest Hemingway, and he’s a perfect example of the masculine. His books are strong and pioneering, they’re about conflict and bullfighting, loving, drinking, war and the ocean.”

Some of the books the club have read include The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson.

Essentially the club acts as a meeting place for men to come together to discuss literature and the everyday issues theyface.

Alex Playsted has been influential in launching the Bendigo chapter. Picture: ANTHONY PINDA

Alex Playsted or ‘Wash’as he is known byfellow members, was hooked from his first meeting.

“Ireally liked what Isaw when Irolled up,” Alex said.

Alex’s love for books and having a good chat were a good draw-card to join, but he felt he wanted to be even more involved with the club and is now a director that helps form new chapters.

“I was in a pretty challenging time of my life,” he said.“Tough relationship, isolated from people and was in the role of a carer.

“Very quickly I foundIhad a very strong community around me of like minded guys that were all very different individuals, but unified with compassion and our interest in the fellow man.”

When Alex Playsted moved to Castlemaine,the first thing he did was start a new chapter, not because he wanted to but because he needed to.

Hepreviously founded the Footscray chapter and had a visionto build one in his new community.

The new chapter attracted the attention of Clem Ryan, who had just recently moved to Castlemaine in the middle of 2017after experiencing a bipolar episode.

“For someone like myself whosuffers from depression and anxiety it has been good to have a group ofguys to meet with once amonth and just talk,” Clem said.

“Iwas amazed by how much youget to know people by listening to them talkabout a book, youcould just tell how they were opening up about their own life experiences.”

The nameTough Guy Book Clubled him to believe it wouldbe a bunch of bearded guys sitting aroundchatting about books, but it turned out to be a whole lot more.

It dawned on him how book clubs can attract ‘genuine, open and honest people’.

“Guys having a new friend catch up would be a bit awkward, but because we have the book as the basis of the conversation it just allows for a greater flow of conversation.”

Pete Collings had recently moved to Castlemaine and one day while he was walkingaround town he noticed a Tough Guy Book Clubposter that took his interest.

There were a few more occasions where he was confronted with the poster before he ‘bit the bullet’ and decided to attend his first meeting.

“I found it was a really diverse group of guys, which intrigued me, listening to the different perspectives people have of the book and on life in general,” Pete said.

Members of the Bendigo chapter which meet on the first Wednesday of each month at The Metropolitan Hotel. Picture: ANTHONY PINDA

After the success inCastlemaine, Bendigo was next on the list with the first chapter meeting in late 2017.

Jamie Rooney had just moved to Bendigo from Glasgow, Scotland.

“Being a standard boy from the west coast of Scotland, we do not discuss emotion, it’s not something that is done is Glasgow,” Jamie laughed.

He became aware ofthe clubafter he sawan advertisement on Facebook.

“My dad is in a social biker club back home and I thought it would be fun to be part of a book club that is based on a biker gang set-up,” he laughed.

“I decided to go along to my first meeting and I absolutely loved it.”

His love ofbooks is something that has been with Jamie throughout majority of his life and he had falleninto the ‘bad habit’ of rereading old classics and favourites instead of finding new literature.

“It’s great to actually have someone sit me down and say ‘you need to read this bookthis month’. Books I’venever heard of aregreat because theyhelpme branch out,” he said.

Like other members from Castlemaine and Bendigo, Jamie was feeling the pressure of social isolation and struggled to find new friends.

“When Ifirst moved here, it was quite difficult getting to know anyone. Everything here seems to be based around sport, so it has been a great wayto meet other people.”

Books, blokes and beer, this is not your regular book club Troy Beamish and Jamie Rooney have forged a new friendship after meeting each other at a Bendigo chapter meeting. Picture: ANTHONY PINDA

The chapters also get involved in activities beyond books, with the Castlemaine chapter building a vehicle for the town’s Billy Cart Challenge. Picture: SUPPLIED

TweetFacebookBendigo member Troy Beamish also hada similar experience, having just recently moved from Melbourne and had a very limited social network.

“Books have always been there, ever since Ican remember. They are myprimary source of knowledge and have always been an escape in mylife,” Troy said.

He found great relief in the open discussions he experienced at his first meeting and was surprised in the depth of the analysisthat was explored in thebook’s themes and its characters.

“Ithought it would be more of an analysis of the characters, whereas it branched out into a deeper look into humanity and how the books applied to the world,” he said.

“It was the most appealing part that will make me come back.”

Tough Guy Book Club meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month and to find your local chapter visithttp://toughguybookclub老域名购买/.

No chapter in your area? Why not be a tough guyand start your own.

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