Book Clubs Are A Great Excuse
There are many great aspects about book clubs, and many reasons that people join—but I like to think of them as “A Great Excuse”.
Have you ever thought, “I’ll do _______ (insert something important to you) when I get around to it.” I thought about my reading life in this way for years. Work, family (all three generations), home, school, travel—these all seemed to get in my way. I remember I had an instructor one time who passed out a wooden coin with the words “TUIT” printed on it. She said that it was a “Round Tuit”. And now that we all had one we could quit putting off all the things we wanted to do. I know, pretty cheesy, but she had a good point. Nothing was really stopping me from making the time to do what I wanted to do. I think of book clubs, as loud, organic “Round Tuit”s. Book Clubs give you a great excuse to do a lot of things.
- A Great Excuse to Make New Friends
My son makes new friends wherever he goes because he is music-obsessed. In any group, he will seek out and find like-minded “music-freaks’ and for him, he’s just developed an instant friend! Finding new people who enjoy what you enjoy can be energizing! No matter what your age, education, experiential or cultural background, you can always find common ground with fellow book-lovers. And although the focus, by definition, will be on the book, there will always be some social chit-chat, and as the friendships gel, the level of trust increases and thus adds to the richness of the book discussions as well.
- A Great Excuse to Expand your Mind and Perspective
Good book discussion encourages the sharing of personal opinions and life stories, and causes you to get a different perspective on many issues, and learn things you could not know by your own limited experiences. Often times, these are people you would not have gotten to know otherwise.
- A Great Excuse to Get Back to Reading
Reading for pleasure is often one of the first things that we sacrifice when our lives get “crunched” –you know—raising kids, starting a new job, going to grad school, etc. A book club can help you get back into the reading habit by providing specific reading assignments which must be completed by a calendar date—usually a book a month. The peer pressure also gives you that extra push to make time for your reading. I went from reading 2 books a year (for pleasure—tons of books were part of my course-work) to reading 50 books a year—and I’m a very s…l…o…w… reader! But book club gave me the kick-start!
- A Great Excuse to Discuss Books
And face it—some books MUST be discussed! Reading is basically a solitary hobby. But haven’t you ever closed and book and wished you could talk to someone about it? I loved the passage in Half Broke Horses (Jeannette Walls) when Lily went back to school to finally get her diploma, she said about reading, “Sometimes after I finished a particularly good book, I had the urge to get the library card, find out who else had read the book, and track them down to talk about it.” Now, that is what book clubs are all about!
- A Great Excuse Stretch Your Reading Muscles
When reading a book in preparation for a discussion, your reticular nerve is always stimulated. You are looking for a great passage to share, jotting down a good question that you’d like the rest of the group’s opinion on, or noting a particularly interesting reoccurring theme, paradox or aspect of symbolism. You aren’t just reading—you’re completely engaging your mind!
- A Great Excuse Move Outside your Reading Comfort Zone
We all have our favorite authors and genres, and left to our own devices, would probably not stray far from them. Many people tell me how amazed they were to discover whole new worlds that they would have never encountered, if it weren’t for “having” to read certain books for book club. And even if you find you don’t like a particular book, at least you’ve learned something knew—about that book and about yourself.
The discovery of new authors—and even countries—can astound you! For example, you may never have the opportunity to physically travel to China. But by reading Wild Swans, The Vagrants, and Shanghai Girls, you may feel as though you’ve been there! And you didn’t have to pop for the airfare—or subject yourself to the TSA “pat-down”.
- A Great Excuse to Break Bread
Not that many of us need an excuse to eat. (Being awake is usually enough for me…) But in our culture, there is something very sociable about eating with others. Even if it’s just a plate of cookies, or a sip of herbal tea, noshing on something while talking just seems natural. And if the snacks are themed to the book, it enhances your whole discussion experience.
- A Great Excuse to Laugh out Loud
The level of trust and respect that gradually develops in book groups creates a safe environment for letting down your hair. Sharing good books, sharing ideas and opinions, and sharing life experiences leads to a group that is accepting, caring –and often times just fun. Top that off with opportunities to celebrate the book—and the good times just keep rollin’!
So here’s a “Round Tuit” for you. Join a book club and you’ll have a great excuse to do a lot of things!
If I missed YOUR favorite book club excuse—please drop me a line and fill me in!