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Join a Book Club

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by Ruth Henwood (subscribe)
I am a mum of two and Primary School teacher whose aim is to never be home during the midday movie. I believe that I am only ever a car trip away from an adventure.
Published August 19th 2013
Where talking about people you don't know isn't gossip
I'm a mum and a teacher, all to primary aged children. It's fair to say that in a typical week I probably read more books than most people would read in six months. This might make me sound rather intellectual but in reality most of these books include large print, loads of coloured pictures and they tend to either rhyme a lot or have a dog in them somewhere. Not always the most compelling and captivating of reads.

It dawned on me recently that if I didn't make a conscience effort I may never read a grown up book again. Between life, Facebook and my ridiculous need for sleep I am well and truly out of the book loop. I have no idea who the latest or upcoming authors are, or which books have made the best sellers list and I admit I have not the slightest idea how one downloads a book onto an iPad.

book club
It's easy to forget the pleasure a good book can bring.


So I decided to change my ways and reacquaint myself with a world of words with more than two syllables and a storyline what doesn't always end happily ever after. I decided to join a book club and my path to change begun. And I'm not referring to the Lucky Book Club either. You know, the one you ordered from once a term when you were at school. No, there are no sticker books, phonetic texts or handwriting posters anywhere in sight at this club.

Book clubs are very popular and have been for ages although they do tend to be kept rather private, you may in fact be a member of one yourself. They tend to take on many forms and are normally governed by the group members and what they see as best suiting. Generally it's all about a group of people who love to read, have long conversations, eat cheese, drink wine and overall prefer someone else to tell them what to read. Let's face it, the world of literature is heavily saturated with books and authors making the simple task of choosing a book often difficult and overwhelming.

If however you're a bit shy or not prepared to commit to a club, but still lacking the motivation to read or simply have no idea what to read then consider a blind date with a book. Some book shops have a selection of books wrapped up tight without a peek of cover or blurb showing and only a small hint as to the genre. Simply take pot luck, pick one up and head home. Maybe it will be the book that changes your life, maybe it will bore you from the first page or maybe a friend will borrow it and you'll never see it again. Who knows how a blind book date will turn out.

book club
Why not have a blind date with a book?


If you prefer interacting with others then there are many benefits to being a member of a book club, other than someone telling you what to read and when to read it. It's also a great social encounter, be it with people you know a lot, a little or not at all. It also commits you to one night out a month somewhere that's not your place and of course its a fantastic opportunity to compare vocabularies, witty comments and to talk about people you don't know without it being considered gossip. If you are interested then there are a few simple ways to get involved and enjoy interacting with like minded people, or at least people who have just read the same book as you.

Join an Existing Club.
This may be as simple as asking around your friendship group or putting it out on social media which worked for me, or it may take a little more effort and a search outside your comfort zone. Try asking at your local library, community centre or even check out notice boards at schools or supermarkets. If you don't know the group then join one that meets at public places, cafes, parks, that type of thing.

Create a Book Club.
All you need is a few members. They can be friends, friends of friends, co-workers, whomever but preferably ones willing to host a meeting on a rotational basis. Otherwise strike up a deal with a local cafe, community centre or study room at the library and see if they can grant the group some time monthly. Once you have your group, establish the most suitable time to meet, pick a random book and off you go.

Different groups work towards their agreed guidelines, some expect members to have highlighted passages to share, others may wish you to be prepared with questions to ask or surveys filled in to encourage and heighten discussions. Most people would probably attest that an informal and fun atmosphere is most appealing.

One thing to keep in mind is that the cost of books isn't cheap, particularly when it comes to new releases. Before dashing off to the store contemplate a visit to your local library or ask a friend in another council area to check theirs.This can work in your favour or you might find yourself at the bottom of a very long list of reserves.

book club
Try the local library before heading to a book store.


Consider pairing up with a buddy and paying half each. Just make sure your partner is a rapid reader or that you get first dibs on the book. Nothing more stressful that the thought of a looming meeting and you still haven't gotten your hands on the book, let alone started reading it. Of course may sure you don't hog it either. Some book shops are happy to work with a club and supply the book to all members often at a reduced price. Contact your favourite store and see if they have any policies in place, or perhaps they are willing to give it a go and test run on your club.

Finally think about purchasing your read on an iPad or similar device. This idea causes controversy within the general public who either accept this method and favour it or would never fathom reading on a screen and losing that interaction with pages, paper and print. I have just read my first novel on an iPad after having such reservations and I may very well be converted. Light to hold, easy to read and cheaper than any book store, but on the down side there's no sharing it around or passing in onto somebody else when finished. No selling or donating it to a second hand book store or opportunity shop either.

So if like me, you too have found yourself in a reading rut lately or you just need an excuse to log off Facebook or Twitter come evening time then may I suggest you think about a book club as a fun, social and interesting way to rediscover the brilliance and magic a novel has to offer.
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Why? Because there's something really special about being emmersed in a book and then having people to talk to about it.
When: Meetings are generally held once a month but groups should decide on what suits their members best.
Where: Meetings can be held at peoples homes or contact a community centre, library or cafe to see if they can accomodate you.
Cost: Cost can be that of a novel which varies depending on what the book is, who wrote it and whether it's a new release.
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