I used to think book clubs were for middle aged anoraks, who were socially awkward, a little dull and had little else to talk about. A group of random people over-intellectualising everything and competing over who could make the most profound statement. Yawn. However, I’ve come to realise this couldn’t be further from the truth. Book clubs are all the rage, with multiple celebrity endorsements and social influencers reviving this longstanding tradition. In fact, book clubs are positively thriving.
Two years ago I decided to join a book club. I have always loved reading but after years of studying and practicing law, I found my love of reading dwindling. Let’s just say, analysing a thick statute book cover to cover can sort of suck the joy out of reading. Once your motivation goes, so does the habit, and then you’re stuffed. Life takes over and instead of reading for pleasure you end up watching Netflix and checking Facebook. Anyway, joining my book club has been a revelation and I love it.
Firstly my passion for reading has been revived. We meet up once a month at a member’s house to discuss a book chosen by them. Every month we rotate which means each member gets to choose a book and host a meeting. I’ve read books that I wouldn’t ordinarily choose. Genres out of my comfort zone, and more often than not, I’ve been mesmerised (apart from one particular book about an alien that sucked me dry and shall remain nameless). Book clubs expand your horizons and motivate you to try new things.
And we don’t just sit around and eat cake. Admittedly snacks do enhance the book club experience, I’m not going to lie, but a proper book club focuses on discussion and exchanging ideas. We have a commander-in-chief, who set up the book club and steers us in the right direction when we lose focus and get distracted by pastries/cake/muffins (we’re only human, after all). We even Skype call authors and have full and frank discussions with them about their literary creations. It’s a wonderful way to gain new insights.
The book club is also a social forum for bringing people together with a shared interest and developing new friendships. It’s an addition to my social calendar that I look forward to and enjoy. We’ve not only created a network that is fun and stimulating but one that supports. We all know that life is full of unpredictable challenges and between us we have faced divorce, illness and bereavement, and the book club has been there to offer comfort and strength.
Ultimately a book club is what you make of it (rule number 1: finish the book) and will vary in style, structure and demographics. But once you find one that is right for you, it will enrich your life and quite possibly reinvigorate a lost passion. Plus……did I mention the snacks?