Why Book Clubs Matter

After writing the post, “Snarky Over Bookclubs…“, I decided to ask a few people what they’ve gained from the book club experience. Here’s what one woman had to say…

As a SAHM (stay at home mom) it is important for me because I get support
from other mothers. Not only do we discuss the novels
but we discuss current events, our family, our lives.
It’s almost like a quilting bee for us except we don’t
quilt [laughing] I like to read the novels that others
have chosen and go outside of my comfort zone. When I
say that, I mean that some of the selections I would
have never bothered to read… but when I do I feel like a
secret has been shared with me.

This book clubber is not alone in her feelings of wanting to connect with others over a good read. People all over the world are getting together, in their homes, libraries, coffee shops, local pubs, and on the net to talk about books. Charlotte Higgins’ recent article in The Guardian, Why the Book Club is More Than a Fad, states…

Reading groups have been around for a long time. But there is clearly something about our current social and cultural circumstances that has made this book club explosion happen now.

It is partly, perhaps, about the desire to forge personal links in a fractured world. It is also partly to do with people feeling the need to actively make the time to read: book clubbers talk of being readers anyway, but liking the extra incentive.

In many instances, it is that once thought endangered and ever wonderful creature, the town librarian, who has been at the front of the book club movement.

libraries have seen something of a renaissance via book clubs – frequently via the efforts of individual librarians rather than the institution.

According to Tom Palmer, who works on a joint libraries-publishers project called Reading Partners, innumerable groups (“hundreds in Yorkshire”) have sprung up, librarians “overcoming a lot of hurdles that councils put in their way.”

I think the following statements from a thirty-something female book clubber sum up much of what can be gained through joining a book club. Yet her final thoughts point a finger at the old on our backs myth that ‘cool girls don’t read, they just go see the movie when it comes out.’

My book group is through the public library. The
library has several groups, all of which meet in the
library conference room. I am a member of a group with
mostly older women, only one woman my age. Most of the
time reading a book is a solitary activity– you read
it and that is it. With book group, I enjoy being able
to discuss the characters and plot. I can see things
in a way that I didn’t see them before, or see other
perspectives even if I don’t necessarily agree with
them. It is also interesting to see how ours lives
have shaped how we see things. Because of my age, I am
often the one with a divergent opinion because I am of
a different generation. No one criticizes me for my
opinions, and they often appreciate my insight. I also
appreciate their insight since I don’t have the life
experience all of the wonderful ladies have had.

Still…I am interested in forming a group where we rotate
homes. I thought it would lead to forming friendships,
which I would really like. I am just not sure how to
go about forming one. And, sadly, so many women my age
(30) don’t read much, or they don’t admit that they
do. I am sure there are women just like me who are
starving to find avid readers to talk about books

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