Did you know that most book clubs fail either because members can’t always agree on the books to read, or they get upset that they don’t like every book chosen for the club to read? I honestly think it’s because people are individuals, and reading is such an individual pursuit that they can’t truly wrap their brains around reading “with” others. So, they look for any excuse to stop reading with the club, eventually dropping out altogether and depriving themselves of what could have ultimately been a fulfilling experience.
Here are four thoughts to consider once you’ve joined (or started) a book club:
- Keep an open mind, no matter which books are chosen
- Mark book club dates on your calendar and follow up
- Find a “book buddy” in the club in order to share thoughts
- Don’t get discouraged by any lack of discussion
Remember, these are people just like you, with lives and other things they have to take care of, and reading for the book club is just a part of that. Some months are easier to find time than others, and some books are more accessible for readers. Think about why the vast majority of books are chosen for book clubs, and how those books are generally the same. It’s because they lend themselves pretty well to reading in a set amount of time, and then they lend themselves to good discussion.
- The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
- Light Between Oceans, by H.D. Stedman
- The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
- The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
- Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes
Now, maybe you’ve found an eclectic book club that reads a wide variety of literature, that eschews these popular titles in favor of lesser known works or books that are older. Or maybe your group takes popular titles from a year ago and reads them now that they’re not as popular with book clubs. And those types of groups are fine, too. That’s the point. No two book clubs are the same, so maybe you do your research before joining (or starting) one.
I started a book club over a year ago, and it’s online only. We don’t meet physically, but perhaps we will someday. What I love about the medium is that we are from all over the place, so we get so many different perspectives, even related to individual cultures. What I love most about book clubs is the sheer choice available. Sometimes in book clubs we read books we never would have picked up ourselves.
But the truth is in the research. Any book club worth its salt does extensive research before deciding on the books to read, on the length of time members will have to read each book, and also on the optimal number of members to have in each group. If the research has been done correctly, and the club has been adequately advertized, there should be a good mix of readers involved. The key is for each member to keep an open mind, though, as I mentioned earlier. Without that, you really don’t have a book club, but instead individual people who pick and choose which books they want to read and which they will in essence skip.
Perspective is everything. Once you’ve found (or founded) a book club that fits you, and you’ve made sure you’re open-minded to its selections, you’re all set. And happy reading!