There are people who love chatting about books. Then there are others who have no desire to join a book club. Which are you?
If you believe you are the latter, please continue, gentle reader.
Did you know you might live longer if you join a book club? So says a report by UK researchers. That’s advice I would like to believe! Live longer by reading books and sharing your thoughts with others. I can buy into that!
Oprah Winfrey is quite possibly the highest profile person to encourage book club membership. From 1996 to 2011, she shared her love of reading through her own popular book club and encouraged literacy in every age group. Then in 2012, Oprah announced the launch of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 in a digital format through her own television network and her e-zine.
However, she’s far from the only celebrity doing this. Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon and apparently even Kim Kardashian all have their own book clubs, to name a few. But you don’t need to be a celebrity; all you need is the desire to start your own group. Put the word out to your friends and see what interest there is.
You may be surprised to discover some of your friends already are members of a book club and you may be invited to join. Problem solved!
You might also check with your local library, community centre or neighbourhood bookstore. Often they have their own book clubs or know of local groups.
Have you ever belonged to or participated in an online book club? For those who are timid about interacting directly with people in a club, involvement with an online book club is one way of dealing with that. You can interact as little as you wish and yet still feel a part of the program. No one causes you to feel pressured about expressing your opinion.
Mind you, in most regular book clubs there’s no pressure either. I’ve belonged to a few book clubs at different stages of my life and have found them to be nothing but supportive, inclusive and most enjoyable experiences. If an online book club still seems to be your first choice, here’s an article with five good options.
My first book club experience occurred when I was in my 20s and an avid member of the Book-Of-The-Month club. Back in the 1970s that seemed to be all the rage and our group of eight young women would meet once a month to discuss a chosen novel. We also met to share delicious food, a glass or two of wine, and, inevitably, our latest personal news. However, the latter did not occur until we had dutifully discussed the book. Honest!
In those days, authors did not as a rule include suggested book club questions, which is more or less the norm these days. Instead, each member of the group had the responsibility to bring along one question of her own about the story and its impact.
There’s a group for everyone. You can look for clubs that are genre specific – science fiction, romance, mystery, etc. What’s your poison? Women only, men only, or mixed. Is age important?
As happens when any group is presented with a work of art, music, film or literature, there is often a diversity of opinions and that makes for spirited conversation. This also encourages us to consider another way of interpreting a story. A sense of humour and respect for the opinions of others is key to having a successful book club.
Some benefits are the opportunity to network and stay engaged with others and to be introduced to some titles you might have never picked up. I was amazed to discover I actually enjoyed reading some genres that I had always avoided. Then there were others I didn’t care for, but that was okay too. Reasons for not liking or finishing a selection can also create lively discussion.
Are there literature genres you have never explored? You may be astonished at how your reading choices expand. It’s never too late!
It’s important to recognize that some seniors feel more comfortable expressing opinions with people their own age. Senior centres are a good place to enquire about book clubs.
If your eyesight is presenting problems, there are large print and audiobooks available. Listening is the new reading!
If you find yourself in a book club that isn’t satisfying, for whatever reason, you can simply drop out. It’s not a lifetime commitment. But I’m willing to bet that you will find yourself in the midst of a group whose company you enjoy as you all share your love of reading.
I’ve met some book clubs that actually began traveling together, too! Another book club now gets together for a meal out once a month, with a hard and fast rule that books may not be discussed!
As well as sharing thoughts about books, these clubs can be about making new friendships at a time in your life when there are not so many opportunities. In fact, Huffington Post offers five reasons to join a book club.
Try it! You just might like it!
Have you ever belonged to a book club? Was it one where you met with regular members, or was it online? Did you enjoy the experience and would you recommend it to others? Did you hate it? What would it take for you to join a book club now? Remember, all opinions are respected, so please share in the comments.