Building Better Book Clubs: Why Book Clubs Matter

January 28, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

is a series of posts focused on all things book club related: discussions, listicles, and how to’s.


It’s time for me to take the passion I have for participating in and organizing book clubs to the next level. Building Better Book Clubs is a new series of posts I’ll be publishing to explore book clubs. Why they matter, why you should be involved, how to get involved, what types of book clubs you could participate in, etc. etc. etc. I hope that these posts inspire you to take the next step. Get involved. Build a community. Expand your love for books.

I am an avid supporter of book clubs. I participate in 6 actively right now, and I am constantly searching for other avenues to discuss literature. That’s how I got into blogging– I had so many thoughts, I just needed to share them. Books clubs can be many things to many people. But at their core, I believe they provide community, a way to challenge ourselves, and a safe space to share opinions and to grow.

 

Book Clubs Provide Community

One of my favorite quotes is from C. S. Lewis:

We read to know we are not alone.

Book clubs are forms for many different groups, but all believe reading goals can be achieved by working together. You might be friends already, aligned through a belief, or just meeting at the library. But reading and discussing together increases the enjoyment and connection we have with the books we read. I find that the more time I spend with my bookish community, the more important they are in my life. People who were once acquaintances are now dear friends.

 

Book Clubs Challenge Us

When I read for a book club, I find that I read intentionally. Instead of experiencing the text as an observer, I look deeper. I read with purpose and intentionally search for sections of the book I plan to share and discuss. I am motivated to be a positive contributor and to challenge the perspectives of my peers. This makes me a more critical reader. I also find that I think critically about the opinions my peers share in book club. They challenge me to change my viewpoints and see the world in a  different light.

 

Book Clubs Provide Safe Spaces 

I trust my fellow book club members will listen, support, and even dissent my thoughts. But they will always participate. The community of book club is warm, welcoming, and willing to listen. Even if everyone disagrees with me, I never feel attacked or alienated. I always feel like I make a connection with someone else in my discussion. A good book club will ensure this is always true.

 

Book Clubs Help Us Grow

I already knew I was excited about reading. But some people come to book clubs for the social interaction. Being together, discussing our thoughts and opinions, often branches into other topics. We socialize, discuss current issues, we eat and talk about our lives. As we reflect on the books, we can find parallels in ourselves. I can’t begin to put into words how I’ve grown through these dialogues. I’ve discovered my inner feminist, the type-A-organizer, someone who wants to be included and is willing to go out of their way to include others. I have also learned to be vulnerable. That was a hard lesson to learn, but I never would’ve learned it without my book club.

 


What do you think?

  • Does this series of posts interest you? If so, why? What do you want to learn?
  • Do you currently participate in a book club? What do you like or dislike about book club?
  • What do you think of book clubs?

45 Comments

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel January 28, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Wow. I am amazed you are active in six book clubs! I don’t go to book clubs. I think I am a bit shy to go into a new group and start talking about books. I talk books only to friends who read and ofcourse on Instagram clubs. I am impressed you are able to manage all your clubs. I agree with many of the points you have put forth

    • Jackie B January 28, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks! Two of them are quarterly, two of them are bi-monthly. Only two book clubs are monthly, so it’s not too challenge to stay on top of them. However, it does mean less time for me to read other books!

      Perhaps some of my posts will inspire you to try out a book club in your future. I completely understand how intimidating it can be. Plus, there are some great discussions which happen on the internet. 🙂 There’s nothing wrong with using social media for your discussions, either!

  • YAandWine January 28, 2017 at 11:24 am

    You are in SIX book clubs?! That is so many! Running one, and trying to do it well, keeps me busy. I’m officially impressed!

    • Jackie B January 28, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      They aren’t all monthly. I run two of them, but one meets quarterly and one meeting bi-monthly. So, it’s not as much work as you think it is. 🙂

      I really hope you follow these posts as I start to explore the ideas around hosting/leading/discussing books. I imagine there is a ton that I can learn from you! I can’t wait to bounce some ideas off you, too.

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea January 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Jackie, I think this is absolutely fantastic! Also, one of my favorite quotes <3 I cannot wait to see what you present for this post going forward. You have already made very valid points.

    I am so horrible. I do not do book clubs. I would if I could find one that was not centered on group reading (but maybe that would defeat the point?) Can you dive into that topic for me haha. See, I don't buddy read. As much as I love discussing titles. I feel pressured and it becomes a chore if I buddy read. I am weird like that. It is also because I like to read multiple titles at a time.

    I would love open clubs that just discuss. No commitment. Everytime I think I have found one, it is usually dead. Bleh.

    Excited for this!

    • Jackie B January 28, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      I actually have some great ideas around that, Danielle! (But you have to wait until I get to that post. Mwahaha!) Don’t worry about not being involved in book clubs yet. There are a lot of traditions around them which I think make them a bit exclusionary. I hope through this series of posts I can start to break some of those cliquish ideas and find something which meets your needs.

  • Shouni January 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Six book clubs are A LOT of book clubs! I’ve always wanted to be a part of one but never really had the opportunity. Most of my close friends are readers and we often discuss books but we’re also like-minded. We almost always agree on viewpoints so it’s not the same as having a group of readers who share different opinions.

    • Jackie B January 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      It’s not as bad as it sounds… two meet quarterly, two meet bi-monthly, and two meet monthly. It just means that I don’t have a lot of time to read what I want in my free time. That said, I almost prefer discussion to reading solo in the end. That makes this a good arrangement for me. 🙂

      That’s a great point! I should address that at some point too… Thanks for giving me a great idea on a post for how to diversify the opinions presented in a book club discussion. Yay! Hopefully I can help you find some opportunities if you are interested.

      • Shouni January 31, 2017 at 8:52 pm

        Unintentionally giving people ideas are the best! I’ll look forward to that post!

  • Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads January 28, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    I’ve never participated in book clubs before (mostly because they don’t fit well with my schedule), but have always wanted to. I swear one day I will, haha.

    • Jackie B January 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Hey, to each their own! If it’s just because they don’t fit in your schedule, well, I hope that I can help with that. But if you aren’t interested that’s okay too! 🙂 Here’s hoping you are, and one day you will find a book club you love.

      • Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads January 29, 2017 at 9:20 am

        I’d love to join one someday. I’m hoping once I’m no longer a student and have a ~real job~ it will give me a more consistent schedule and make it easier for me to find one I can join. But being a student and working a part-time job, my schedule changes constantly which makes it hard 😛

        • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm

          Oh yes! Being a full-time student really mucked with my reading in general. I found that it wasn’t as appealing to read for fun, since I was reading all the time for school. Career job really changed the perspective there, for sure. There are definitely some book club options for you, even with a changing schedule! I hope we can find you something which works well. 🙂

  • Diana January 29, 2017 at 3:56 am

    How do you manage the 6 book clubs?Are some of them online?I totally agree with you on all these points.My book club has definitely challenged me to read books that I wouldn’t gave picked for myself.Great post.Looking forward to more.

    • Jackie B January 31, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Five book clubs are in person, one is online. It’s not too challenging for me as 2 are monthly, 2 are bi-monthly, and 2 are quarterly. I read quickly enough that it’s not a challenge for me. I just love the discussion aspect. 🙂

      What books have you picked up for your book club you never would have otherwise? Are there any recommendations for books which challenged you from your book club you could provide? (Wow, that’s an ugly sentence…)

      • Diana February 1, 2017 at 12:53 pm

        The most challenging one was Beloved by Toni morrison.Another one was The Long Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan and recently A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.Those were the best ones for reviews.I also liked Memoirs of a Geisha,Americanah by Chimamanda and Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.Last year,I picked The Fishermen by Obioma which most of the members liked.

        Oh just remembered Stephen King’s 11/23/63.My first book on time travel which was great for review too.Have you read any of these books?

        • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          Americanah was a recommendation for one of my book clubs, as well! I’m so glad that book club gave me the opportunity to read it. It opened my eyes to a whole new experience of life.
          The only other book I’ve read on your list is Memoirs of a Geisha. However, 11/23/16 and Beloved are both on my TBR. What made Beloved challenging for you?

          • Diana February 5, 2017 at 11:12 pm

            Oh, glad to hear that you enjoyed Americanah. Beloved was complex for me due to the writing first of all. I think it can be considered a classic, the writing didn’t have the usual kind of flow. Secondly, the theme of slavery was hard to read about. Thirdly, the character Beloved gave me nightmares lol. I look forward to discussing the book with you once you are done with it.

          • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm

            I have definitely read books which have given me nightmares, I am sad to say! I am definitely a bit more apprehensive now, but I think this will be an interesting discussion. I am intrigued for sure. It’s supposed to be a hard book. I guess it really is.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom January 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    LOVE this new feature Jackie! I joined my first in person book club this past summer and I am loving every minute of it. Not that I don’t love all my blogger friends, but being able to meet and discuss books with people in real life is so much more personal. I cherish our monthly meetings. It has really helped me to try new types of book as well as get new perspectives on the books we read. It is also particularly important for me because I am a stay at home mother, so I do not get the adult interaction that I did when I was working.

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      It makes me sooo happy to hear you say all this, Amanda! I have found all those things to be true– and it must be extra important to get your adult time. Are there any books in particular you’ve found through your book club you would recommend?

  • Novels And Nonfiction January 29, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    I’m pretty impressed that you run two successful book clubs on your own. I’m part of one that is for alumnae of my college in LA and I love it, especially because it has a good age range to it – both women my own age but also many who are in later decades. I tried to start a separate book club with close friends but none of them read the book and it turned into just brunch! I guess not everyone is super into reading and Type A like us 😉 You might want to try Modern Mrs. Darcy’s online book club as something to review as part of this series. It does have a monthly cost which is obviously not the norm for a book club, but it might be interesting to sign up just for a month or two and see what you think of it.

    • Jackie B January 31, 2017 at 9:03 am

      I completely understand how book clubs fall apart– I have been a part of many of those books clubs before, and I hope that I can help people prevent that (if they are interested in stopping their collapse; sometimes people want it to end) with advice in some upcoming posts. 🙂

      I tried to get involved in Modern Mrs. Darcy, but they are closed for new members! I’m on the email list, and when it opens again in late April, I hope I can jump on the band wagon. At least for a few months to try it out. I haven’t done something as organized as this for an online book club. I’m definitely interested to check it out.

  • Jasmine January 30, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I love that quote. I first saw it when I joined a Buddy Read group on Goodreads but then I left because there are plenty of bloggers on here that I can invite to buddy read with haha.. Those are some really good facts about book clubs! I haven’t been to one physically before. Buddy reads is a small book club step for me I suppose.. haha.. This is a cool series you are doing Jackie!

    • Jackie B January 31, 2017 at 9:11 am

      I love buddy reads. I never thought I’d enjoy them, but as long as I get an opportunity to discuss, I am content. 🙂 I love the format you follow by dual-posting reviews and answering a few questions. That’s a lot of fun.

      Thanks for the kudos! That means a lot to me. 🙂

  • Cait @ Paper Fury January 31, 2017 at 3:58 am

    Yesss, book clubs are so awesome! I used to be active with an online one, but I more just use Goodreads as one big book club these days. 😉 It’s really great to like see different perspectives and discuss books with other people. I’ve learned so much that way, and picked up things I didn’t see the first time in books!! Plus just being around other bookworms is always amazing. 🙂

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks, Cait! Goodreads is a great book-club-type option. I don’t think there is anything wrong with digital book clubs, and that’s something I’ll be exploring. To me, the in-person variety are super important because they bring me together with people I never would have socialized with and I am confronted directly with their different opinions. You can get the same through things like Goodreads, though. 🙂 I love spending time with Bookworms.

  • Jasmine January 31, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    It’s cool to see different perspectives to the same book. Have you done any buddy reads? I don’t think I have noticed that in your book reviews 🙂

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      I love Buddy Reads, but I don’t do them often. It’s hard for me to find someone who wants to just read a book in a pair. I need to figure out a better way to get involved in them, and I’d love to do more. When I have done them, it’s always been with a person I don’t know through blogging. I’d love to cross post. 🙂

  • whatthelog February 2, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Yaaay, I’m excited for this series!!! I know this is a bit of a broad question, but do the choices for your book club tend to be books that you wouldn’t normally read, or ones that you were planning on reading anyway?

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      I’m so glad! Thanks for sharing, Wendy. 🙂
      My book club book selections vary. I try to persuade one group of my good girlfriends to read books I was planning on reading anyway for a reading challenge or some such. However, the others push me and my boundaries a bit more. I find that I end up reading a lot of books I never would have considered before due to book club reading. That’s how I found The Night Circus, which is one of my all time favorite books. I wouldn’t trade this situation for anything. 🙂

      • whatthelog February 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

        Huh, interesting! I think I’d want to be pushed, personally 🙂 Do your different book clubs focus on different genres, or anything like that?

        • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

          Yup! I have a Kids Lit book club which only reads YA and MG. One is based off of Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf book club, so we read those books and discuss equality. One is for the Verona Area Concert Band, which I participate in; we read a book each quarter based on the selected musical theme. Two are based out of local libraries- we read a ton of diverse books. And the last one is based on getting through the Read Harder or Popsugar reading challenges.

          It’s a really diverse collection of books, that’s for sure. I like being pushing to read new things, but I don’t always enjoy the books. O_o

          • whatthelog February 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm

            Oh wow! That is such a fantastic variety. I’ve been debating joining some of the Litsy book clubs, like the social justice one – I think that being pushed to read new things is probably one of the best parts of being in a book club 🙂

  • theorangutanlibrarian February 6, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Wow it’s awesome that you’re a member of 6 book clubs! And I definitely agree with you about how important it is to be challenged! Great post!!

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thanks! That means a lot to me. 🙂

  • Jasmine February 7, 2017 at 8:45 am

    How many readers are in your book club? the one that you physically go to.

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 11:57 am

      The smallest one I attend is only 4 people, but the largest one has somewhere between 15-25 people show up each month. That one is library-led. The two I host are around 8 attendees and 12 attendees per month. But, that varies pending people’s schedules/lives/etc.

  • Grab the Lapels February 12, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I’m interested in your ideas on best practices. I am in one book club, but since you are in six, you may have more ideas about how to run a book club.

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks, Melanie! I am excited for that post. I have quite a long list of prepared posts (well, at this point they are mostly outlines…), and I can’t wait to get to that one. Baby steps, I guess. 🙂 I hope it turns out to be helpful!

  • DaniellaWrites February 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I’m excited to read more posts in this series. I’ve always wanted to join a book club – but am a little bit intimidated. I think I would prefer one that had book discussion in general rather than just ‘pick a title, read, discuss’, but I’m not even sure that that’s a thing?

    There aren’t really any in person clubs in my area. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a book club myself, but I’m not sure of how to go about doing it.

    • Jackie B February 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Thank you, Daniella! That is *exactly* what I love to hear– I hope that I can help you figure out how to start a book club through some of these posts. I have so many ideas; if only there was time for more blogging!

      Yes, it’s definitely a thing where book clubs read and discuss in general. One of my favorite types of book clubs involved everyone picking a book on their own and coming together to discuss how these books all are reflections on a theme. You just need to be open to spoilers. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I hope to see more of you. 😀

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