Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why I'm a Book Club Girl

I love reading for lots of reasons. But top of the list might be: because it's a solo activity.

I don't need to make arrangements with anyone else to get to read. I don't need a partner. Given how much reading material is already in my house, I don't even need money. I can do it anywhere, any time. Especially in the twenty-first century, where my kindle app coordinates across devices and even syncs up with the audiobook version in some cases.

But once I've read something, especially something I loved, I long to share it with someone. I want to find the other people that read the book, too and gush over it for a while, sharing favorite lines or talking about great character moments. For that, I do need a partner, or even a group.

That's why I'm a bookclub girl.

Book clubs aren't for everyone, not even for everyone who loves to read. I get that. Some people don't want to have to read something they didn't choose. Some people worry about conflict and disagreement, when others have a different view of a book. Maybe others just want to savor the book privately.

But that connecting over a book moment is an experience I crave. And I'll give up things like complete freedom of choice in my reading material and take on a little time pressure stress for the guaranteed chance to talk with other passionate readers regularly.

Over the years, I've been in a lot of kinds of book clubs. Neighborhood ones. Groups of colleagues. Book studies. Library sponsored. Online. Asynchronous. Even one where we didn't all read the same book, but just got together and told each other about what we've been reading lately.

Every one of them fed a hunger in me. Not just for books, but for thoughtful conversation, divergent thinking, and challenge. In short, for book people.

I'm in two book clubs right now.

First Monday Classics at my local library meets once a month to talk about a classic novel. We've been together as a group for two years now, and just settled our 2017 reading list. Besides the great books (we're reading Vonnegut, du Maurier, Baldwin and Eliot, among others in the upcoming months), I also get to interact with a group of people I might not have encountered otherwise through this group. The group was started by a writer friend (James Maxey, speculative fiction writer and former Piedmont Laureate) because he wanted to read some classics himself and was looking for company on that journey. Now, I count several of the members among my personal friends.

My other reading group is a very small one. Just four of us, all liberal leaning women who live in the
same neighborhood. We take turns choosing the books and meet at a local food co-op (Weaver Street) for treats and talk roughly once a month. We probably talk about our lives as much as the books, but it was books that brought us together and books that we turn to for solace, distraction, and ideas.

Both groups feed my soul in different ways, and I'm grateful for their place in my life.

How about you? Are you a book club person? Or a solitary reader? What kinds of book clubs have you enjoyed or hated? Would love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. Samantha, yes, I am part of a book club. We may not all agree on the choice of books and we may differ in our reactions to the chosen books,but the book club offers me so much that I wouldn't change a thing. We've been together more than ten years now!

  2. I've never been part of a book club, though the idea of it intrigues me. I think I just haven't found the right book club for me yet. But then again, belonging to a group that reads something out of my norm would probably work more towards broadening my literary horizons. Maybe I'll find one near me in the New Year...