Having this in mind, a couple of years ago, I eagerly joined two book clubs: one run by the local library and the other, a street book club, all members being neighbours.
At the library, the librarian chooses the book. There’s no small talk and we discuss the book for an hour. Usually, there are questions already prepared and the conversation revolves around these questions. The perspective each person has on the story is always tinted with personal experience and personality. So, there are always different views on the same story. Many times, I have found out about aspects in the book that had slipped past me as I was reading. As a writer, I find that particularly interesting, the fact that the same story can be perceived differently and provoke different emotions from one person to the other.
“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
The street book club is very different. We take turn in choosing the book and we do discuss it… for about 5 minutes. Then, it’s wine, cheese and cake time! The discussion switches to subjects like family, work and the latest gossip of the street. What is said at book club stays at book club!
After giving birth to my little one, time became such a precious thing, never enough of it and because I still wanted to read in my favourite genre, magic realism and romantic fantasy, something had to go. So, I reluctantly cut out the library book club.
I came up for today’s post with a list of pros and cons for writers on being a member of a book club:
- If one of your motivations is to read widely and have no idea where to start, you will be provided with books suggestions. You certainly don’t want to be that person at the meeting who haven’t read the novel and has nothing to say about it so you will make an extra effort to read the book;
- Book clubs make you discover new authors, new genres, new novels you might never have heard of or picked otherwise. You may come across books that will become your favourites as I did;
- You’ll find out about new writing styles, new ways of narrating and crafting stories. I have found this priceless as I was able to apply some ideas on ways to tell a story to my own work in progress;
- Book clubs are a great place to meet new people, share your love of books and talk about that novel you absolutely loved and want to tell the world about!
- If you are committed to a book club, you’ll have to read books that you will end up not enjoying at all. You’ll have to respect the choices of other members because you want them to read the book that you will be picking;
- I am amazed by people who can read three books in one week. This is certainly not my case and if you are a slow reader like I am, you might not have enough time to read all these other books that are calling you from the shelf;
- You can end up being the only person in your group who read the book. That can be frustrating especially when you didn’t enjoy it;
- Or, you can go to the meeting and realise that no one is interested in talking about the book and that can also be frustrating especially if you are all prepared for the discussion.
If you want to join a book club but want to keep your commitment to a minimum level, a good alternative is virtual book clubs. Here’s a great one to check out: The Pink Fibro (https://www.facebook.com/groups/274090672737464/). In that case, if you skip a month because you are not particularly interested in a book, no one will say anything.
Are you a member of a book club? What’s your experience with book clubs?