It's Time To Discuss Books: How To Find A Book Club Which Suits You
I’ve loved books since I was a child. I’ve enjoyed discussing books for years; I’ve discussed books with friends, classmates, family members, and strangers. NPR, one of my Appalachian Trail friends, and I discuss books at least once a week. My Grandma Glenna and I enjoy discussing books, and occasionally she’ll recommend a volume to me which I cannot put down even to do supposedly essential tasks such as eat and sleep.
Last August I decided that I wanted to join a book club. I had recently relocated to a completely different part of the country, and joining a book club seemed like an excellent way to simultaneously make connections and discuss books. My quest to find a book club made me aware of a few strategies worth using when searching for a book club.
Have you ever joined a book club?
If possible you should begin by determining how committed you can and want to be to attending a book club. It’s possible you want to attend faithfully every month. Conversely, you may be interested in attending only if the book selection appeals to you and you don’t have a conflicting interest. For anyone who intends to regularly attend his or her book club, I suggest looking more carefully at the book club options around you. However, if you may end up attending a book club meeting every few months, this may not be a decision you need to weigh as heavily.
A humorous book club option
There are several ways to learn about book clubs in your town. The first is to visit the local library and ask a librarian about local book clubs. It’s also possible they have a list of local book clubs and related contact information on the library’s website. This is how I found the book club I currently belong to. You can also go to local bookstores and ask if they have any information about local book clubs. Visiting the local Craigslist page and looking under events or groups is another feasible option. You may also want to look at local bulletin boards to see if any book clubs are advertised. If all of these options fail, it may be time to ask your friends, family, and coworkers if they know about any book clubs. During my search I learned about two book clubs which weren’t well advertised by asking around, and this is one reason I believe this method is worth considering.
A friendly librarian like this one is surely available to ask about book club options.
It’s essential to have a good idea of when you would be free to attend a book club before you start looking at your options. You may be free two evenings a week, or else free only every third Tuesday night. Also, you may have a flexible job where you are able to change your schedule slightly in order to attend a book club meeting. This may seem like too much hassle for many people, however, and therefore I suggest trying to attend book club on an evening—presuming the book club meets in the evening; it may meet in the morning or afternoon—when you are typically free.
I suggest getting information on several local book clubs so you can compare them. If possible, ask to see a list of books recently read by the book clubs which interest you. Once you get these lists, look online for summaries of these volumes to see if they are the kind of book you are willing to consider reading. You may prefer reading nonfiction volumes; consequently, you may not fit well in a book club which reads exclusively fiction. My book club reads a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. Since I’m unable and unwilling to read only fiction or nonfiction, this works well for me.
Perhaps an interactive, online book club is for you
You may wish to ask yourself if there are any subjects which particularly interest you. While I don’t know how common themed book clubs are, I know they exist because I used to attend one which included only books with spiritual themes. Also, if you are especially intrigued by a certain topic or topics, this may be one reason to start your own book club if there isn’t already an existing book club for you to join.
Consider what type of group you would like to discuss books with. While there is an obvious danger in being too particular about who is in your book club, if you are strongly opposed to having a book club with, for example, both men and women, this is helpful to know. Also, you may find that you want to be in a book club with people closer to your age, or else that you don’t mind if you are one of the youngest or oldest members of this group. I’ve appreciated the age difference between me and many of the fellow members in my book club because I find this adds depth and variety to our discussions. In other words, they are able to offer another perspective partly because they are significantly older than me.
Book clubs can be infamous for getting off topic. In other words, it is possible they will discuss topics which have little (or nothing) to do with the book. Think about whether or not this would bother you. If it does, this may be another reason to create your own book club or look very carefully for a group which does this less often or not at all.
If possible, try to visit several book club groups over the course of a few months to get a sense of which one would suit you best. It’s easy to think you will be well suited to a group because you enjoyed the reading selection, yet you may discover that significant political and other—including religious—differences between you and the other members make the discussion strained and uncomfortable. You may also learn that you prefer a book club where they discuss the overarching themes of a book instead of the particulars. If you have taken the time and effort to determine what you would like in a book club—and, by the way, this doesn’t have to be an overly detailed list—hopefully you will be able to easily decide between your options.
Remember that you can always try to create your own book club if you can’t seem to find what you are looking for. It’s also possible you will discover that perhaps now isn’t the best time in your life to join a book club, and therefore you must do without this social outlet. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you find excellent reading material in the near future.