“Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.” —William Styron
As bibliophiles, we know that in reading books we get pulled into unique places and times, becoming acquainted with inspiring and intriguing characters. We come to love the sites and sounds of the Wayfair Inn or imagine the laugh of a lovely little girl named Blossom in Second Chance Grill. Alone, with our books, we conjure up vivid images, sounds, and smells that take us to places unimagined.
Although there is much to be said about the solitary nature of reading, there is also a great deal to be gained by reading with others. Do they imagine characters look the same as you do? How do others experience the conflict among family members? What lessons are others learning from the story? Reading books alongside others—via a bookclub—is a wonderful way to glimpse the book through others’ eyes in a way that builds community, strengthens old friendships, and develops new ones.
Starting a book club is fairly easy. You just need to think about who you’ll invite, how meetings and discussions will occur, the frequency of discussions, and how books will be selected. Oftentimes, starting a book club seems like another task to attend to, but it doesn’t have to be. Once the format of the club is established, decide how everyone can share in keeping the group alive and books in the hands of the members. To make sure that a club stays engaged and that you are connecting with others, consider these three options when creating your book club.
Work With a Local Library
Your public library is an invaluable resource for book clubs! Librarians can make suggestions on books to read and how to develop questions for the club to consider. They may even be able to help you find existing book club questions that already exist. Most libraries are also affiliated with the American Library Association which also provides suggestions on book club reads. Most importantly, your Library may have several copies of an eBook that can be checked out, so this may reduce the costs of being part of a reading group. Finally, if you need a place to meet, public libraries are all too happy to help provide space and support for local book clubs.
Too busy for a traditional book club? Then meet online! As you may know, there are a lot of clubs you can join—or create—on Facebook or Twitter. The social platform can serve as a vehicle for book selection and discussion. But also think outside the box when it comes to online book clubs! You can use tools such as Slack or Zoom where you can keep your club private and use chat, video, and file sharing options for discussions. The benefit here is the flexibility the club can have and the opportunity to connect with others who don’t live by you or who are in other parts of the world!
Connect With Co-Workers
Yes, book clubs do exist at work! Planning book reading and discussion time around common lunch breaks or after work is a great way to get to know your colleagues in a different light. Your club can consider non-fiction books that can be helpful in the workplace like Dare to Lead by Brené Brown or Grit by Angela Duckworth. Your organization’s human resources department may be willing to lend support as book clubs are considered a tool for employee professional development.
As you embrace on the journey to develop a book club, focus not only on the literature you’ll develop into, but the relationships you can develop and enhance through the common bond of reading. By considering these three tips, your world can expand and become much richer!